Federal Trade Commission Consumer (FTC) education specialist Jon Morgan defined how he focuses consistently on what new angles scammers may be working on and how to keep ahead of them.
He noted how his department hears from people about the kinds of scams they see and in turn, they use the information to create tips people use to spot and avoid such scams.
According to Morgan even the FTC is not exempt from scam attempts. “My colleagues and I have even gotten calls on our work phones, offering reduced credit card interest rates, or claiming to be tech support calling about problems with our computers. We also get the calls at home,” he wrote.
He even received a call from someone claiming to be with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Morgan said the call had all the signs of an IRS imposter scam. He provided the following important information.
“The IRS won’t call out of the blue to ask for payment, won’t demand a specific form of payment, and won’t leave a message threatening to sue you if you don’t pay right away.”
He encouraged anyone who receives such a bogus IRS call to report the call to the FTC and to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).
TIGTA officials stress during tax filing season it is critical for all taxpayers to be wary of unsolicited telephone calls and emails from individuals claiming to be IRS and Treasury employees,” noting further that such callers are aggressive and relentless.
Between October 2013 and March 2020, the agency tracked and investigated instances where criminals impersonated IRS employees to extort money from individual taxpayers. During that period, more than 2.5 million people reported to TIGTA they had received an impersonation call. Unfortunately, more than 15,800 victims reported they paid the criminal impersonators a total amount of more than $80 million.
TIGTA offered the following to help other unsuspecting individuals avoid similar losses:
- The IRS generally first contacts people by mail – not by phone – about unpaid taxes
- The IRS may attempt to reach you by telephone but will not insist on payment using an iTunes card, gift card, prepaid debit card, money order, or wire transfer.
- The IRS will never request personal or financial information by email, text, or any social media.
If you receive a call from someone claiming to be with the IRS asking for a payment, take the following action:
- If you owe Federal taxes, or think you might owe taxes, just hang up and call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040. IRS employees 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 1-800-366-4484.
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.
(Sources: Federal Trade Commission and Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration)