IRS Telephone Scam Reaches Delaware - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

IRS Telephone Scam Reaches Delaware

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 MIDDLETOWN, Del. - The Internal Revenue Service and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration say they continue to hear complaints about scam telephone calls, and the scam has now reached Delaware.

The Middletown Police Department says a man reported receiving a scam telephone call on Tuesday. Police say a 37-year-old man told them he was contacted by telephone from an unknown man claiming to be a Special Agent for the Internal Revenue Service. Police say the suspect advised the man that he owed money to the IRS and told him payment had to be paid in order to avoid arrest.

The Middletown Police Department says they verified the call with the IRS, other government agencies and businesses to find that call is not standard protocol and is a popular scam.

The IRS says as of mid August, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) had received 90,000 complaints through its telephone hotline and has identified about 1,100 victims who have lost an estimated $5 million from these scams.

"There are clear warning signs about these scams, which continue at high levels throughout the nation," said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. "Taxpayers should remember their first contact with the IRS will not be a call from out of the blue, but through official correspondence sent through the mail. A big red flag for these scams are angry, threatening calls from people who say they are from the IRS and urging immediate payment. This is not how we operate. People should hang up immediately and contact TIGTA or the IRS."

In the Delaware incident, Middletown Police say the scam caused the man to use two pre-paid Visa debit cards valued at $500 each causing him to lose $1,000.

The IRS says other victims have reported being told they owe money that must be paid immediately to the IRS or they are entitled to big refunds. The IRS says when unsuccessful the first time, some victims have reported that the phone scammers call back trying a new strategy.

The IRS says other characteristics of these scams include:

     -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.

The IRS says it will never ask for credit card, debit card or prepaid card information over the telephone. The department says it will also never insist a taxpayer use a specific payment method to pay tax obligations or request immediate payment over the phone. It says taxpayers usually receive prior notification of IRS enforcement action involving IRS tax liens or levies.

The IRS and the Middletown Police Department say anyone who receives telephone calls of any sort where demands of immediate payment or threats are made should be followed up for validity prior to providing any payment or financial information.

The IRS encourages everyone to be vigilant against phone and email scams that use the IRS as a lure. The IRS says it does not contact taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. It says this includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media. The IRS also says it does not ask for PINs, passwords or other confidential access information for credcreditd, bank or other financial accounts.

The IRS says anyone who receives emails like this should not open any attachments or click on any links in the message. Instead, it says they should forward the email to phishing@irs.gov.

For more information or to report a scam, go to www.irs.gov and type "scam" in the search box.
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