Acting on information that Rhode Island consumers are once again being targeted by a phone scam involving the IRS, Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin renewed efforts to warn Rhode Islanders and share information on what to look for and how to avoid being scammed.
In this most recent wave of the IRS scam, individuals are contacting taxpayers via telephone, telling them they owe back taxes and demand that the victim pay the money immediately with a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. The caller often threatens the victim with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver's license. In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting.
Thieves who run this scam often:
o Use common names and fake IRS badge numbers. o Make caller ID appear as if the IRS is calling by using spoofing software or pre-paid cell phones. o Send bogus IRS e-mails to support the bogus calls. o Call a second time claiming to be the police or department of motor vehicles. Again, using spoofing software or pre-paid cell phones, the caller ID again appears to support their claim.
If you get a call from someone who claims to be with the IRS asking you to pay back taxes, here's what you should do:
o Hang Up! o Call and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484 or at www.tigta.gov. o Never provide any bank account or other personal or financial information to a person or company that you don't know. o Do not wire money to a person or company you don't know.
"Consumers across the country have been falling victim to this scam for months despite numerous advisories from the IRS, my office and my fellow attorneys general. No state has been immune to this scam. It's understandable to be scared and confused when someone claiming to be from the IRS uses fast talk and threatening language. The only sure fire way to put these thieves out of business is to be savvy to their tricks and hang up before they have a chance to convince you should pay what they demand," said Attorney General Kilmartin.
About the Office of the Attorney General Consumer Protection Unit The Office of the Attorney General Consumer Protection Unit investigates and mediates consumer complaints concerning unfair and unlawful business practices and misleading advertising arising out of alleged violations of the Deceptive Trade Practices Act. If groups of people are victimized by a deceptive trade practice, this office may file in the Superior Court a civil investigative demand, which is a formal investigation. In appropriate cases, a lawsuit to stop the illegal business practice may be initiated.
Apart from carrying out its statutory responsibilities, the Unit also provides information and referral services to the general public. Consumers are directed to the appropriate governmental or private agencies for help in answering specialized questions or resolving disputes that are not within the Unit's jurisdiction.
The Consumer Protection Unit is available to speak to community groups on how to prevent being a victim of identity theft and other scams. For more information, please visit www.riag.ri.gov or call (401) 274-4400.