UNION COUNTY, NJ – Some Union County residents have reported receiving scam phone calls or emails, sometimes threatening, from alleged representatives from the Internal Revenue Service or the Department of Legal Affairs at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, fraudulently demanding payments.

This is the largest ever phone scam in the U.S. It has collected $14 million from 3,000 victims since January 2015.

The scammer will claim that taxes are owed and unless they are paid, the recipient of the call will have to appear in court and face multiple charges. The caller will then say that payment may be made by credit card, pre-paid debit card, or wire transfer to avoid a court appearance. The phone number may be a 202 or 201 area code; the caller will give an employee ID number; and there may background noise imitating a call center. All these details are designed to make the call look legitimate.

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The IRS and the U.S. Department of the Treasury warned against these scam calls and offers this advice:

  • The IRS usually contacts people by mail, not by phone, and never asks for payment by pre-paid debit card, credit card, or wire transfer over the phone.
  • The IRS never requests personal or financial information by email or any form of social media. Anyone receiving an email should forward it to phishing@irs.gov.

Other characteristics of these scams include:

  • Scammers generally use common names and surnames to identify themselves.
  • Scammers may be able to recite the last four digits of a victim’s Social Security number.
  • Scammers spoof the IRS toll-free number on caller ID to make it appear that it’s the IRS calling.
  • Scammers sometimes send bogus IRS emails to some victims to support their bogus calls.
  • After threatening victims with jail time or driver’s license revocation, scammers hang up and others soon call back pretending to be from the local police or DMV, and the caller ID supports their claim.
  • Anyone who owes or thinks they owe taxes, should call the IRS at 1.800.829.1040. The IRS employees at that line can help with a payment issue, if there really is such an issue.
  • Anyone certain they do not owe taxes, should call and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1.800.366.4484.

Complaints can be filed using the FTC Complaint Assistant; choose “Other” and then “Imposter Scams.” If the complaint involves someone impersonating the IRS, include the words “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.