NW3C is taking this opportunity to pass along critical information related to ongoing efforts to prevent losses to U.S. taxpayers at the hands of IRS impersonators.
WASHINGTON - The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) urged taxpayers to remain on "High Alert" and announced additional outreach efforts to prevent them from falling victim to criminals who impersonate Internal Revenue Service and Treasury employees this filing season.
"The phone fraud scam has become an epidemic, robbing taxpayers of millions of dollars of their money," said J. Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. "We are making progress in our investigation of this scam, resulting in the successful prosecution of some individuals associated with it over the past year," he said, adding that over the summer, a ringleader was sentenced to more than 14 years in federal prison. "However, this is still a matter of high investigative priority."
TIGTA continues to receive reports of thousands of contacts every month in which individuals fraudulently claiming to be IRS officials make unsolicited calls and "robocalls" to taxpayers and demanding that they send them cash, he said.
"As the tax filing season begins, it is critical that all taxpayers continue to be wary of unsolicited telephone calls and e-mails from individuals claiming to be IRS and Treasury employees," said the Inspector General. "This scam has proven to be the largest of its kind that we have ever seen. The callers are aggressive and relentless," he said. "Once they have your attention, they will say anything to con you out of your hard-earned cash," George added. "We will be very aggressive in pursuing those perpetrating this fraud," the Inspector General said. "In the meantime, we need to do even more to warn taxpayers not to fall for it," he added.
TIGTA's expanded outreach initiative includes video Public Service Announcements in English and in Spanish that warn taxpayers about the scam. In addition, TIGTA is working with its partners in the public and private sector to help get the word out, both through traditional law enforcement channels and through direct outreach to associations, nongovernmental organizations, and the media.
TIGTA has received reports of roughly 896,000 contacts since October 2013 and has become aware of over 5,000 victims who have collectively paid over $26.5 million as a result of the scam, in which criminals make unsolicited calls to taxpayers fraudulently claiming to be IRS officials and demanding that they send them cash via prepaid debit cards, money orders or wire transfers from their banks.
"The number of people receiving these unsolicited calls from individuals who fraudulently claim to represent the IRS is growing at an alarming rate," George said. "At all times, especially around the time of the tax filing season, we want to make sure that taxpayers are alerted to this scam so they are not harmed by these criminals," he said, adding, "Do not become a victim."
"This is a crime of opportunity, so the best thing you can do to protect yourself is to take away the opportunity," the Inspector General added. "If someone unexpectedly calls claiming to be from the IRS and uses threatening language if you do not pay immediately, that is a sign that it is not the IRS calling, and your cue to hang up," he said. "Again, do not engage with these callers. If they call you, hang up the telephone."
Inspector General George noted that the scam has hit taxpayers in every State in the country. Callers claiming to be from the IRS tell intended victims they owe taxes and must pay using a pre-paid debit card, money order or a wire transfer. The scammers threaten those who refuse to pay with being charged for a criminal violation, a grand jury indictment, immediate arrest, deportation or loss of a business or driver's license.
Here is what you need to know. The IRS generally first contacts people by mail - not by phone - about unpaid taxes and the IRS will not ask for payment using a prepaid debit card, a money order or wire a transfer. The IRS also will not ask for a credit card number over the phone. The callers who commit this fraud often:
If you get a call from someone claiming to be with the IRS asking for a payment, here's what to do:
- Utilize an automated robocall machine.
- Use common names and fake IRS badge numbers.
- May know the last four digits of the victim's Social Security Number.
- Make caller ID information appear as if the IRS is calling.
- Aggressively demand immediate payment to avoid being criminally charged or arrested.
- Claim that hanging up the telephone will cause the immediate issuance of an arrest warrant for unpaid taxes.
- Send bogus IRS e-mails to support their scam.
- Call a second or third time claiming to be the police or department of motor vehicles, and the caller ID again supports their claim.
- If you owe Federal taxes, or think you might owe taxes, hang up and call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS workers can help you with your payment questions.
- If you do not owe taxes, fill out the "IRS Impersonation scam" form on TIGTA's website, www.tigta.gov, or call TIGTA at 800-366-4484.
- You can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at www.FTC.gov. Add "IRS Telephone Scam" to the comments in your complaint.
TIGTA encourages taxpayers to be alert to phone and e-mail scams that use the IRS name. The IRS will never request personal or financial information by e-mail, text, or any socia
Taxpayers should be aware that there are other unrelated scams (such as a lottery sweepstakes winner) and solicitations (such as debt relief) that fraudulently claim to be from the IRS.
Read the U.S. Attorney's Office Press Release.
SMS phishing (or SMiShing) uses cell phone text messages to deliver the bait to induce people to divulge their personal information. The hook
(the method used to actually capture people's information) in the text message may be a website URL, but it has become more common to see a
telephone number that connects to an automated voice response system.
The SMS phishing message usually contains something that demands the target's immediate attention. Examples include "We confirm that you have
signed up for our dating service. You will be charged $2 a day unless you cancel your order on this URL: [URL]". Or (Name of popular online bank)
confirms that you have purchased a computer from (name of popular computer company). Visit [URL] if you did not make this online purchase",
and "(Name of a financial institution): Your account has been suspended. Call 555.###.#### immediately to reactivate".
The hook will be a seemingly legitimate website that asks you to "confirm" (enter) your personal financial information, such as your
credit/debit card number, CVV code (on the back of your credit card), your ATM card PIN, SSN, email address, and other personal information.
If the hook is a phone number, it normally directs to a legitimate-sounding automated voice response system, similar to the voice response
systems used by many financial institutions, which will ask for the same personal information.
There has been a recent surge of this type of phishing scam in Arkansas, affecting several financial institutions. If you have fallen victim
to this and provided your information to a scammer, contact your financial institution as soon as possible for instructions on how to protect
yourself. You may report scams of this nature to the FBI at www.ic3.gov.
Better Business Bureau
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Investigates Questionable Loan Company
doesn't exist at Fayetteville address it is using
a loan in exchange for an up-front fee wired to Canada
June 4, 2015 - Little Rock, AR - The BBB serving Arkansas is warning consumers about
a company offering what appear to be personal loans with one
stipulation - the customer must pay an up-front fee in order to
receive the loan. This type of loan is referred to as an
Advanced Fee Loan and is illegal in Arkansas.
obtained copies of documents faxed to consumers that claim Bergenfield
Financial Trust is located at 4058 N College Ave, Ste 204
Fayetteville, AR 72703. According to Flake & Kelley
Commercial, no such company leases space at that
address. No business license has been issued nor
is the company registered with the Arkansas Secretary of
State. Mail sent to the business has been returned by the
complaint details, consumers are given instructions to wire a
"collateral fee" to secure the loan, via a
person-to-person transfer to Canada. This fee is usually paid
by making several monthly payments. A company document
indicates that funds will be released within 1 business day from
the time the loan agreement is executed and the collateral payment
has been received. However, according to customers, they have
not received the promised funds. When calling to inquire
about the status of their loan, Bergenfield Financial Trust
tells customers that additional money needs to be wired to Canada,
for various reasons. BBB's experience shows that this
type of business does not issue a refund, nor do consumers receive
The BBB reminds loan seekers to keep the following
tips in mind:
the reputation of any lender with the BBB and your state
agency that regulates financial institutions
prior to entering into a transaction with them.
lenders will never guarantee or promise a loan before you
apply for one, especially if you have a
poor credit history or no credit record at all.
wary of giving financial information to a company you are
unfamiliar with, via phone, email or other
wire money to someone you don't know.
You have little recourse if there is a problem with the
in mind that it is against the law for a company to ask you to
pay - or accept payment - for the company's services until you
receive your loan.
believe you have been the victim of an advance fee loan scam, you
are advised to contact:
Copyright Â© 20XX. All Rights Reserved.
Recently an unknown person contacted an area merchant by email requesting to set up services the merchant provides. The person requested a phone number to communicate
but declined to speak on the phone, preferring to handle things by text message. The person gave the merchant a credit card number to pay for the services and overpaid
by $1500.00, but told the merchant he would have to forward the $1500.00 to another person to cover some transportation costs. This raised red flags with the merchant
and fortunately he did not complete any transactions. The phone number used by the person had a North Carolina area code (980). This seems to be a new twist to various
credit card fraud schemes seen in the past. Be very wary of unknown persons with odd requests. Do not accept overpayments, especially when accompanied by a request to
forward the balance to a third party. This is a huge red flag something is amiss. If you have any questions or concerns about the legitimacy of a transaction or payment,
contact the Ft. Smith Police Dept. for assistance.
Fraud schemes like this should normally be reported to the FBI at http://www.ic3.gov.
Ft. Smith residents have recently reported being targeted by the IRS phone scam described below. Be very wary of unsolicited phone calls from anyone demanding
money. Always vet the source of the phone call and if you have any doubts at all, call the Ft. Smith Police Dept. for assistance.
WASHINGTON — As the 2014 filing season nears an end, the Internal Revenue Service today issued another strong warning for consumers to guard against sophisticated
and aggressive phone scams targeting taxpayers, including recent immigrants, as reported incidents of this crime continue to rise nationwide. These scams won’t
likely end with the filing season so the IRS urges everyone to remain on guard.
The IRS will always send taxpayers a written notification of any tax due via the U.S. mail. The IRS never asks for credit card, debit card or prepaid card information
over the telephone. For more information or to report a scam, go to www.irs.gov and type "scam" in the search box.
People have reported a particularly aggressive phone scam in the last several months. Immigrants are frequently targeted. Potential victims are threatened with
deportation, arrest, having their utilities shut off, or having their driver’s licenses revoked. Callers are frequently insulting or hostile - apparently to scare
their potential victims.
Potential victims may be told they are entitled to big refunds, or that they owe money that must be paid immediately to the IRS. When unsuccessful the first time,
sometimes phone scammers call back trying a new strategy.
• Scammers use fake names and IRS badge numbers. They generally use common names and surnames to identify themselves.
• Scammers may be able to recite the last four digits of a victim’s Social Security number.
• Scammers spoof the IRS toll-free number on caller ID to make it appear that it’s the IRS calling.
• Scammers sometimes send bogus IRS emails to some victims to support their bogus calls.
• Victims hear background noise of other calls being conducted to mimic a call site.
• After threatening victims with jail time or driver’s license revocation, scammers hang up and others soon call back pretending to be from the local police or DMV, and the caller ID supports their claim.
If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, here’s what you should do:
• If you know you owe taxes or you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS at 1.800.829.1040. The IRS employees at that line can help you with a payment issue,
if there really is such an issue.
• If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to think that you owe any taxes (for example, you’ve never received a bill or the caller made some bogus threats
as described above), then call and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1.800.366.4484.
• You can file a complaint using the FTC Complaint Assistant; choose “Other”
and then “Imposter Scams.” If the complaint involves someone impersonating the IRS, include the words “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.
Taxpayers should be aware that there are other unrelated scams (such as a lottery sweepstakes) and solicitations (such as debt relief) that fraudulently claim
to be from the IRS.
The IRS encourages taxpayers to be vigilant against phone and email scams that use the IRS as a lure. The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email
to request personal or financial information. This includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels. The IRS also
does not ask for PINs, passwords or similar confidential access information for credit card, bank or other financial accounts. Recipients should not open any
attachments or click on any links contained in the message. Instead, forward the e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information on how to report phishing scams involving the IRS is available on the genuine IRS website, IRS.gov.
You can reblog the IRS tax scam alert via Tumblr.