According to Lt. Rich Whitford of the Fort Thomas police, callers are claiming to be employees of the IRS, but are not. These con artists can sound convincing when they call, using fake names and bogus IRS identification badge numbers. They may know a lot about their targets, and they usually alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling.
"We've had a lot of complaints lately and unfortunately we have had a couple of people in Fort Thomas that have been victims," said Whitford. "Tax season is coming up and we just want to make sure people know that this is a scam. We've communicated with the IRS and they have told us they will never ask for money over the phone."
Whitford said that victims are told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. If the victim refuses to cooperate, they are then threatened with arrest. He said that in many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting.
Or, victims may be told they have a refund due to try to trick them into sharing private information.
If the phone isn't answered, the scammers often leave an “urgent” callback request.
Whitford said that the majority of calls are coming from overseas and have been localized in India. He also said most of the calls are landlines.
Whitford said to either hang up immediately or tell them you have contacted your local police department, then do just that.
According to the IRS website, here are five things the scammers often do but the IRS will not do. Any one of these five things is a sign of a scam. The IRS does not:
- Call you to demand immediate payment. We will not call about taxes you owe without first mailing you a bill.
- Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the chance to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
- Require you to use a certain payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
- Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
- Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement to have you arrested for not paying.
If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money, here’s what to do:
If you know you owe taxes or think you might owe, call the IRS at 800-829-1040 to talk about payment options. You also may be able to set up a payment plan online at IRS.gov.
If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to believe that you do, report the incident to TIGTA at 1.800.366.4484 or at www.tigta.gov.
If phone scammers target you, also contact the Federal Trade Commission at FTC.gov. Use their “FTC Complaint Assistant” to report the scam. Please add "IRS Telephone Scam" to the comments of your complaint.