Chief Deputy Joe Smith of the Mingo County Sheriff’s Department is warning local residents of an IRS phone scam.
Smith said he received a couple of calls on Tuesday from concerned citizens. The Chief Deputy actually called the number that was given to the local resident and heard the scam himself. The scammer identified himself to Smith as Paul Anderson.
The scammers identify themselves as someone from the IRS and tell the victims that they owe back taxes to the IRS.
According to the Internal Revenue Service, the callers who commit fraud often:
• Use common names and provide fake IRS badge numbers.
• Know the last four digits of the victim’s Social Security number.
• Make it appear as if the IRS is really calling.
• Send fake IRS emails to support their scam.
• Call a second time claiming to be the police or DMV to support their claim.
The West Virginia Attorney General’s office continues to receive a high volume of calls related to the IRS Phone Scam. Since late May, the Consumer Protection Division has logged several complaints from consumers who have been contacted by a person perpetrating this scam.
Attorney General Patrick Morrisey first sent out a Consumer Alert about this scam on December 16, 2013. A caller will pretend to work for the Internal Revenue Service and threaten the victim with arrest or some other kind of punishment if he or she doesn’t pay a certain sum immediately with a pre-paid debit card or money order.
“These callers claim the person who answered the phone has unpaid taxes that must be paid immediately,” Morrisey said in the alert. “They use aggressive language and threaten everything from jail time to deportation to loss of a driver’s license or business license if the money isn’t paid immediately.”
In March 2014, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration announced that this is the “largest scam of its kind” and thousands of victims had already paid more than $1 million to scammers. The callers typically use the same script, which leads these inspectors to believe they may be connected.
As a reminder, the IRS will never initiate contact with you out of the blue via telephone. Additionally, the IRS will never demand credit or debit card payment over the telephone, or demand that you pay a tax bill in a specific manner. If you receive a call like this one, simply hang up and call the Internal Revenue Service directly at 1-800-829-1040, and then report it to the U.S. Treasury Department at 1-800-366-4484. Also, report the call to our Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-368-8808.
(Information for this article came from the W.Va. Attorney General’s office.)
(Kyle Lovern is the Editor for the Williamson Daily News. He can be contacted at [email protected] or at 304-235-4242, ext. 2277 or on Twitter @KyleLovern.)