Be suspicious of anyone who calls you and claims to be from the Internal Revenue Service, federal authorities are warning.
The sophisticated phone scam has hit more than 20,000 people in almost every state, and netted the fraudsters more than $1 million.
“This is the largest scam of its kind we have ever seen,” J. George Russell, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration said in a statement. “The increasing number of people receiving these unsolicited calls from indiviudals who fraudulently claim to represent the IRS is alarming.”
The scammers are telling people that they owe a tax payment and threatening things like arrest, deportation, or loss of a drivers’ license for those who don’t pay immediately by debit card or wire transfer.
The phone calls appear on caller ID to be coming from the IRS, and the callers usually know the last four digits of the victim’s social security number. The calls will often be followed by a second call that appears to be from the police or the department of motor vehicles.
The real IRS usually uses the mail to make its initial contact with people about unpaid taxes, and it won’t ask for a credit card number over the phone.
If you receive a suspicious phone call, report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Taxpayer Administration at 800-366-4484.
If you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS directly at 800-829-1040. You can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at www.FTC.gov.
Top Reads from The Fiscal Times: