CLARK, NJ – Clark Police Chief Pedro Matos has issued repeated warnings at recent Town Council Meetings reminding residents that this is the time of year when tax scams are on the rise.
Matos shared his own experiences with vishing calls. “We’re going into tax season, I’ve started receiving these automated … calls to my cell and home number claiming that my social security benefits have been seized because of some suspicious activity,” said Matos. “It’s an obvious scam don’t pay attention to anything like this, please hang up the phone do not press anything and don’t provide any of your private information.”
In addition to Matos’ reminders, the Internal Revenue Service issued notices to the public as April tax deadlines approach. The IRS warned taxpayers to be alert to tax time phone scams where aggressive criminals pose as IRS agents in hopes of stealing money or personal information.
According to IRS officials, Phone scams or “vishing” (voice phishing) continue to pose a major threat. Phone scams again made the IRS’ Dirty Dozen list, an annual compilation of some of the schemes that threaten taxpayers not only during filing season but throughout the year.
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), the federal agency that investigates tax-related phone scams, says these types of scams have cost 14,700 victims a total of more than $72 million since October 2013
“Taxpayers should be on the lookout for unexpected and aggressive phone calls purportedly coming from the IRS,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “These calls can feature scam artists aggressively ordering immediate payment and making threats against a person. Don’t fall for these.”
Beginning early in the filing season, the IRS generally sees an upswing in scam phone calls threatening arrest, deportation or license revocation, if the victim doesn’t pay a bogus tax bill.
These calls may be an automated call requesting the victim call back or enter information on the phone keypad. Sometimes a real person may call with small pieces of the intended victim’s identifying information or using a phone number which makes their caller ID look like an official agency making the call appear more legitimate.
The IRS offered a list of thing scammers will often do, that they will not do which might provide a clue that a scam is at hand:
The IRS will never:
- Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail a bill to any taxpayer who owes taxes.
- Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have the taxpayer arrested for not paying.
- Demand that taxes be paid without giving taxpayers the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.
- Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
- Call about an unexpected refund.
For taxpayers who don’t owe taxes or don’t think they do:
- Please report IRS or Treasury-related fraudulent calls to firstname.lastname@example.org (Subject: IRS Phone Scam).
- Do not give out any information. Hang up immediately. The longer the con artist is engaged; the more opportunity he/she believes exists, potentially prompting more calls.
- Contact TIGTA to report the call. Use their IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting web page. Alternatively, call 800-366-4484.
- Report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on FTC.gov. Please add "IRS Telephone Scam" in the notes.
For those who owe taxes or think they do:
- Call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS workers can help.
- View tax account online. Taxpayers can see their past 24 months of payment history, payoff amount and balance of each tax year owed.
For more information visit Tax Scams and Consumer Alerts on IRS.gov.