Watch out for IRS impersonation scams

Consumer Reports

Tax season may be long over, but tax-related scams aren't. At least three states recently warned about scammers posing as IRS agents demanding payment of overdue taxes.

“These scammers have become increasingly aggressive over the last few months,” Attorney General Tom Horne of Arizona said in a statement.  

Attorney General Mike DeWine of Ohio reported that his office has received dozens of complaints from across the state since April 15, with victims losing from $700 to $28,000. He said the IRS impostors tell would-be victims that there are problems with their returns, they owe back taxes, or that they're under investigation for tax fraud and face arrest or seizure of their property. The phone number that appears on caller ID when the scammers contact victims may have a "spoofed" 202 area code, making it appear as though it's from Washington, D.C. The callers may demand payments in the form of a prepaid debit card, which prevents recovery of the money once the scam detected. Some callers ask for information from the person's tax return.

In July, the Connecticut attorney general and consumer protection officials issued their second alert about the scam. In some cases, they said, the callers ask for the last four digits of a person's Social Security or bank account number, which may add legitimacy to the call or might be used later to fool the person into divulging additional information.

Also read our warnings about vacation fraud, locksmith scams, and burglar alarm ripoffs.

What to do Never respond to anyone who contacts you by phone, e-mail, text, or in any other way, claiming to be from the IRS and demanding payment for delinquent taxes or anything else.   "The IRS will always send taxpayers a written notification of any tax due through the U.S. mail, not through an unsolicited phone call," Attorney General George Jepsen of Connecticut said in a statement.   If you receive such a call, report it to the U.S. Treasury, which has set up a website in response to the scam, and to the Federal Trade Commission.   If you're unsure whether you owe taxes or have outstanding issue with the IRS, call the agency at 800-829-1040.   — Anthony Giorgianni

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