In the last few years, Americans have lost millions of dollars and their personal information to fake Internal Revenue Service callers and tax scams. These scammers are actively calling Miami Valley residents. And, if you think these scammers are picky about who they call, you may want to think again. Even teenagers are being targeted.
One Kettering teenager received several calls on Tuesday afternoon from one of these scammers. It was an automated call allegedly from the Tax Crime Investigation Unit of the IRS. The caller claimed the IRS had issued an arrest warrant for the teenager and that he and his physical property were being monitored. He was instructed to immediately return the call before further action was taken. A scary phone call for a teenager to receive. (Recording of the call is attached.)
BBB staff investigated the phone number provided. The area code — 817 — provided by the call was found to be located in Texas. But, BBB’s experience has found that most likely the callback number provided is a spoofed telephone number. According to White Pages, the telephone number has been flagged as a IRS scam. Likewise, 411.com has also flagged the number as a suspected scam.
IRS imposter scams like this are common. IRS imposter scammers will call victims claiming to be an agent with the IRS. They alter the caller ID to look like the IRS is calling. The callers may give a badge number and know the last four digits of your Social Security number. They will claim you owe a specific amount in taxes and will require you to put your payment on a prepaid debit card or require you to wire the money. If you do not agree to pay the amount, they will threaten police arrest, deportation or license revocation. In the last four years, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration claimed to have received over 895,000 reports and over 5,000 victims of these scams. Victims have collectively paid over $26.5 million dollars to scammers.
BBB offers these tips to help you avoid these scams:
• Do not give unfamiliar callers any personal information.
• Write down the details, such as the phone number and name of the caller.
• Hang up immediately.
• Report the call. File a complaint with the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at tigta.gov or (800) 366-4484 and report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on FTC.gov and add “IRS Telephone Scam” into the notes.
• Call the IRS directly at (800) 829-1040.
• Warn your friends and family.
It’s important to remember the IRS will first contact you by mail, never by phone or e-mail. It will not require a specific type of payment. In addition, the IRS will never ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone or threaten to bring in law enforcement. However, the IRS may hire a collection agency to assist it, but only after it has tried to reach you first.
John North, BBB serving Dayton/Miami Valley president and CEO, shares, “These scammers are unscrupulous and target anyone they can get in touch with, no matter the age, race, sex, residence, etc. That’s why it’s important to know how scams like these operate, which is what saved this young man from falling victim to the ploy. Don’t let their scare tactics intimidate you. Take time to check it out. BBB can always help. Just call (937) 222-5825 or (800) 776-5301 or visit our Web site at bbb.org.”
For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people and businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2014, people turned to BBB more than 165 million times for BBB Business Reviews on more than 4.7 million businesses and charity reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. BBB serving Dayton and the Miami Valley is one of 109 local, independent BBBs across the United States, Canada and Mexico. BBB serving Dayton and the Miami Valley serves seven and half Ohio counties, including Clark, Darke, Greene, Miami, Montgomery, Preble, Shelby and northern Warren counties. The Dayton-based BBB is unique in that it provides business solutions and consumer services in specialized areas to other BBBs, businesses and consumers. It remains focused on the Miami Valley, but through these key products and services, it is an international organization.