BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – It’s tax season and scam artists are making calls trying to trick people out of their money- claiming to be from the IRS.
IRS impersonators have been around for a while, but the agency says this scam is more sophisticated than ever.
The scam is happening nationwide and there have already been cases of it reported here in Alabama, according to the IRS. The agency wants to get the word out about the warning signs so you don’t become a victim.
Homewood resident Adelle Sperling does her own taxes.
We sat down with her to find out what she thinks about the latest scam that the IRS is warning taxpayers about.
Someone calls saying they’re from the IRS. They spoof the caller id to make it look like they are calling from the IRS then they demand payment.
“Oh really and you mean they believe that?” said Sperling.
Well they may have the last four digits of your social security number. They may even threaten to have you arrested or deported and may call back spoofing the caller id again to make it look like they are law enforcement officers.
” Oh,Ok,” said Sperling.
Now she sees why this scam is so alarming.
“It’s horrible,” said Sperling. “Because there’s a hidden fear of the Internal Revenue Service.”
IRS Spokesman for Alabama and Tennessee, Dan Boone, says there have always been IRS impersonators out there, but not this sophisticated.
“Not that make the caller ID look like it’s the IRS calling, often not that already know some information about you including possibly the last part of your Social, your social security number. So don’t let that throw you off,” said Boone.
“They probably will say that they’re with the IRS. They’ll probably give you even a badge number that will be fake,” said Boone. “They’re trying to make it sound like they really are with the IRS. And they really already have some of your account information. So you’ve got to be careful. You’ve got to be really, really careful on this one,” said IRS spokesman Dan Boone.
Boone says there are some red flags to remember.
Number one if you owe taxes to the IRS you’ll get a notice in the mail.
“Just because they’ve got a little bit of information or because it looks like it’s the IRS calling, number one if you owe taxes to the IRS the IRS is going to send you a notice. That’s the first step that we always do. You’ll get a notice in the mail. Then at that point you correspond with us either through the mail or you can call us if that goes on. Now does the IRS make calls? Yes. Sometimes we do make calls, but there are several things that these scammers do that the IRS won’t do. One of those is they, the scammers ask you to pay using a prepaid debit card using like a green dot card or something like that. The IRS will never ask you to do that. The IRS will also never ask you for a credit card number or a bank account number over the telephone. We just don’t do that. Now can you pay your taxes by credit card or debit card yes, but you make that contact through the IRS website or through the official phone number where you call us and we don’t call you,” said Boone.
As for Mrs. Sperling, she’s on guard. If someone calls and wants her financial information, “they get nothing. None of their business,” said Sperling.
If you get a suspicious call from someone claiming to be with the IRS, Dan Boone says to tell the other person that you aren’t comfortable doing business over the phone, to send you something in the mail and you’ll respond in writing.
“You know don’t hesitate, hang up if you need to. Often we’re told these scammers get really angry and threatening to you if you don’t comply with what they say. They may even threaten to have you arrested and then you may get a second call from another scammer or maybe even the same person pretending to be another scammer. And again they spoof the caller id to make it look like it’s the police or the some other law enforcement agency that’s calling you,” said Boone.
You can also report a scam artist to the Treasury Inspector General’s office at 1-800-366-4484. Also, Dan Boone says to remember, the IRS doesn’t send emails or text messages to initiate contact with taxpayers. If you get an email from the IRS, he says it’s probably a scam.
2014 WIAT-TV CBS42