Team 10: Warning issued over tax phone call scam

Posted at 10:59 AM, Jan 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-20 08:02:37-05

The U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration is warning taxpayers to be on high alert and not to fall for scammers who impersonate Internal Revenue Service employees.

The IRS says since 2013, they're aware of around 4,550 victims who have collectively paid over $23 million as a result of the scam.

"Phone calls coming from scammers saying the IRS needs you to make immediate payments, arrests or lawsuits," said IRS spokesperson Raphael Tulino. "That's not the IRS doing business; that's a scammer using the IRS as a lure."

The criminals make unsolicited calls to taxpayers fraudulently claiming to be IRS officials and demanding that they send them cash via prepaid debit cards. If the phone isn't answered, the scammers often leave an urgent callback request.

"As a taxpayer, do what you can [to] stay vigilant and keep your antenna up," said Tulino. "It's really important to protect your information."

According to the Treasury Inspector General, the scam has hit taxpayers in every state in the country.

The IRS says they will never call to demand immediate payment, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill. They will also never threaten to bring in local police or other law enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.

The IRS has released a series of YouTube video tax tips designed to provide people critical information to help protect their tax and financial data. The videos, part of the continuing Security Summit effort combating identity theft and refund fraud, are part of an ongoing effort to educate taxpayers and provide them tools to stay safe online.

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