With a spike in consumer complaints coming into the office within the past day, Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin is warning Rhode Islanders to be on the lookout for the latest "IRS phone scam" to hit the area. According to some estimates, consumers across the country have reported more than $8 million in losses from this scam in the past year.
In this most recent wave of the IRS scam, individuals are contacting taxpayers via telephone, telling them they owe back taxes and demanding 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:
Use common names and fake IRS badge numbers.
Make caller ID appear as if the IRS is calling by using spoofing software or pre-paid cell phones.
Send bogus IRS e-mails to support the bogus calls.
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:
Call and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484 or at www.tigta.gov.
Never provide any bank account or other personal or financial information to a person or company that you don't know.
Do not wire money to a person or company you don't know.
"When threatened with being sued or thrown in jail for owing back taxes, most people tend to pay what they are told they owe, and scam artists prey on people's good nature to want to do the right thing," said Attorney General Kilmartin. "Thankfully, vigilant consumer watchdogs reported to our office that the scam was back, hopefully saving others from being a victim."