IRS Phone Scam Targets Unwitting Victims

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The Indiana Attorney General’s office is warning consumers about a fast-growing phone scam targeting Hoosier households.

The state of Indiana has seen a large uptick in the number of people filing complaints regarding a scam from callers who purport to work for the Internal Revenue Service. Callers claim to be IRS employees and demand past due taxes in the form of prepaid cards. The scammers often threaten arrest and jail time.

Attorney General Greg Zoeller’s office has received 500 such complaints in 2015. More than 1,100 complaints were received in 2014.

“The reason this scam is so successful and pervasive is that people fear the IRS and may be willing to take rash actions to avoid trouble,” Zoeller said. “Unfortunately, once you pay these criminals, that money is likely lost forever. Do not make any type of payment or give out any personal information to a caller unless you have verified the caller yourself and initiated the call. Gone are the days when we can pick up the phone and trust the person on the other end.”

The IRS does not contact taxpayers over the phone. Instead, you should expect official correspondence through the mail. The IRS also does not request credit cards, debit cards or prepaid cards over the phone.

If you receive a call along these lines, hang up immediately. You should then report the scam to the Indiana Attorney General’s office at IndianaConsumer.com or by phone at 1-888-834-9969.

Other prominent telephone complaints received so far this year include credit services scams offering lower credit card interest fees and tech support scams offering tech support via remote access to a user’s computer.

The AG’s office says that to avoid being the victim of a scam, you should follow some basic tips. Do not let a solicitor bully you into making an immediate decision. Ask for the caller’s contact information and tell them that you will get back to them. Do research and verify that the number is from a legitimate company. Check with the Better Business Bureau to see the company’s reputation. Finally, do not make any payments over the phone if you cannot verify the caller.

You can also sign up for the state’s Do Not Call list until May 19. Adding your number to the Do Not Call list deters unwanted calls from telemarketers and acts as a red warning flag when you receive unsolicited phone calls. You can sign up for the Do Not Call list at the IndianaConsumer.com website.

Image Credit: peddhapati, flickr

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