CAUTION: Central Texas IRS Phone Scam!
Wednesday, September 24, 2014 12:05 PM

Central Texas residents should be on the alert for a phone scam involving con artists pretending to be Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agents. The IRS and Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) have reported receiving 90,000 complaints. Unfortunately, 1,100 victims have fallen for the scam losing an estimated five million dollars from these scams. Better Business Bureau (BBB) serving Central, Coastal, Southwest Texas and the Permian Basin received nearly a dozen reports of this particular scam just last week when a BBB employee received a threatening voicemail from a Washington, D.C. phone number. When she called the number back, the fake IRS agent asked probing questions and threatened her with legal action. 

IRS impersonators are calling and demanding that consumers are late on their taxes and after being probed for personal information, are told to send the funds via prepaid card or wire transfer. The phone calls come with threats of jail time, deportation, and suspension of business or driver’s licenses, along with other threats.

The fake IRS agents have been known to use a computer program to make the real IRS phone number appear on caller ID. Some of the scammers can even quote false badge numbers, and use call centers that use background noise to seem legitimate. There have also been reports of the caller having personal information, like the last four digits of a person’s Social Security number and address.

BBB offers this advice to avoid getting scammed:

  • Look Out for “Spoofing”. Part of scammers tactics include spoofing, which happens when the caller masks their own number and causes the number of a well-known service, like the IRS, to appear on caller ID.
  • Protect your personal information. Don’t provide any account or other personal information over the phone. If you have any questions or concerns about your taxes, hang up and call the agency directly.
  • Know your rights. The IRS doesn’t request for prepaid debit cards or wire transfers payments, and will not ask for a credit card number over the phone. The IRS alerts taxpayers by mail. If you owe, or think you owe federal taxes, call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 or go to irs.gov. IRS workers can help you with your payment questions.
  • Don’t be bullied. Never trust callers who use threats and hostility to push you into doing what they want. Be skeptical of what a caller claims he or she can do if you refuse to meet their demand.