Scammers pretending to be Internal Revenue Service agents are again targeting Coachella Valley residents over the phone.
Sandy Cox, a Desert Sun reader in Palm Desert, said she’s gotten at least four calls this week from men purporting to be IRS agents. Initially, a man left her a message with a phone number. She called back, and the man on the other end of the line told her he had reviewed her taxes from 2008 to 2013 and she owed money.
“It’s very intimidating if you buy into it,” Cox said.
She was suspicious about the threatening tone of the supposed agent. When she didn’t act, the scammers called back several times, Cox said. Several of her acquaintances have gotten calls as well.
This type of scam was first reported last year and spread nationwide. The IRS has released several statements informing taxpayers about their practices — and, more importantly, about what the agency does not do.
Fake IRS callers generally order scam victims to submit payments through pre-loaded debit cards or wire transfers. They might threaten victims with arrest, license suspension or deportation.
Scammers might try to prove their legitimacy by giving fake IRS badge numbers. They may know the last four digits of victims’ Social Security numbers. Some can imitate the IRS’s 1-800 number so the IRS appears on caller ID. After a call, they might call back pretending to be the local police or DMV.
The IRS does not ask for credit card numbers, PIN numbers or bank account numbers over the phone, nor request payment by pre-paid debit cards or wire transfers, the agency wrote in an October blog post about the scams.
The warning added that the IRS almost always contacts taxpayers by mail several times before making phone calls. The agency does not reach out to taxpayers by email, text or social media, nor does it threaten them with arrest or license suspension.
If you get a phone call you think is a scam, here’s what the IRS recommends:
- Do not give anyone your credit card or bank account information over the phone unless you’re certain it’s safe.
- If you think you might actually owe taxes, call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 for clarification.
- Whether or not you owe taxes, report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1-800-366-4484.
- If you receive an email that claims to be from the IRS, don’t click on any links or open any attachments. Forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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