The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers about a phone scam that is demanding money and threatening jail time.
Agencies are receiving phone calls from local consumers who have been contacted by the "IRS" or the "Treasury Department" saying they owe money and it must be paid promptly.
Consumers are instructed to buy a preloaded debit card or wire transfer funds to pay the debt.
If the victim refuses to cooperate they are threatened with arrest, home foreclosure, deportation or suspension of business or driver's license. The caller often times become very demanding, hostile and insulting.
The BBB wants consumers to know that the IRS will never ask you for credit card numbers over the phone or request a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer.
The IRS will most likely contact taxpayers via mail in regard to tax issues.
These callers are simply trying to scare consumers into paying them money they don't owe.
Consumers should not be threatened into making any payments they are not certain that they owe. The scammers use these strong-arm tactics because they know many people will pay the money to avoid being arrested.
Some other characteristics of this scam:
- Scammers use fake names and IRS badge numbers
- The scammer may actually have the last 4 digits of your Social Security number.
- Scammers can spoof Caller ID phone numbers making it appear the call is really from the IRS or their local police department.
- Victims can hear background noises of other calls being conducted to mimic a call site.
- After threatening jail time or deportation, scammers hang up and soon call back pretending to be from the local police, to help support their claim.
- Never trust callers who use threats and hostility to bully their targets into doing what they want. This is a scare tactic many scammers use.
The BBB recommends the following if you receive a similar type call:
- If you know you owe taxes or think you might owe taxes, call the IRS or your accountant.
- If you know you don't owe taxes, call and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1-800-366-4484 or treasury.gov.
- If you've been targeted by this scam you can contact the Federal Trade Commission and use their Complaint Assistant at www.FTC.gov.
- Report your experience on the BBB’s Scam Tracker at www.bbb.org/scamtracker, so they track the activity and warn others.
- If you are not sure if the call is legitimate or not, contact the BBB at 1-800-763-4222 or at bbb.org.
Remember that even after tax season is behind us, expect that the IRS name is going to always be used in a multitude of scams so be alert and never provide your personal information.