After receiving an influx of consumer reports regarding unsolicited phone calls from individuals pretending to be from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Attorney General Kilmartin is once again warning Rhode Islanders to be wary of potential scams.
Individuals are contacting taxpayers by telephone, claiming the taxpayer owes back taxes that must be paid immediately. In many cases, the caller threatens legal action, arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver's license if the payment is not made right away via a prepaid debit card or wire transfer.
"Although we have issued several warnings about this scam, it keeps resurfacing in Rhode Island and across the country," said Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin. "We are reminding consumers to be vigilant and to remember that the IRS never calls individual taxpayers to demand immediate payment. These callers are aggressive and employ scare tactics in an attempt to cheat people our of their hard-earned money. The best way to stop this scam is to hang up immediately and contact our office so we can warn other consumers."
Attorney General Kilmartin warns consumers that the individuals who run this scam may sound legitimate by using the following techniques: 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.
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.