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WARNING: IRS phone scam targeting thousands

NBC
News

POSTED: Friday, March 21, 2014 - 6:17pm

UPDATED: Saturday, March 22, 2014 - 10:21am

The Internal Revenue Service Inspector General J. Russell George is warning everyone this is the largest phone scam he's ever seen. Scam artists have taken more than $1 million from tax payers just this year. They're calling and claiming to be from the IRS. The phone callers are telling people they could face extreme consequences like arrest, deportation, loss of business or driver's license as a threat to "pay up."

The Better Business Bureau of East Texas said when these scammers call you, they already know your name, where you work, and the last four digits of your social security number. Every day around two hundred people are being targeted. "I would be very suspicious from any telephone call from someone who says they're from the Internal Revenue Service, even if they give you a badge number," said IRS spokesman Clay Sanford.

However, "the twist is on this is that they're being very threatening," said Mechele Mills, CEO of the BBB of East Texas. She said, "what these scam artists typically do is play on your emotions, they try to scare you, and that's what they're doing in this case. Once they've gotten to you emotionally, your logic goes out the window." The IRS says if someone's threatening you, that should be an instant red flag. They said they "almost never call people on the telephone, we usually send a letter, a regular letter of notice through the US mail," adds Sanford.

Mills said this is targeting tax payers right now, but "you always need to be on the lookout for this type of thing, because one tax season is over, they'll be on to the next thing." She also said if you have been a victim, report it to the IRS, make an alert on your credit reports, and let your bank know immediately. If you suspect it’s a scam, ask for their name and IRS badge number, hang up, and call the IRS to confirm the caller.

Here's some characteristics of this phone scam:

  • calling and stating they're with the IRS
  • using a fake name (usually a common name) and badge number
  • reciting the last four digits of your social
  • demanding you pay immediately through wire or a pre-paid debit card

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Never answer a number I don't recognize

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