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Many are getting scam calls about phony IRS bills. Here’s what to do

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Q: I received a call from the IRS. The caller told me I owed $1,302.41 in taxes and that I need to pay right now. The caller said that if I did not pay, the police will come and arrest me and if I am illegal I will be deported. What do I do?

A: People nationwide are getting these types of scam calls. According to the Internal Revenue Service and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), 90,000 complaints have been filed to date and 1,100 victims have been identified who have lost an estimated $5 million from these scams.

In order to convince people that they are really IRS agents, the scammers use several tricks including a program to make the IRS’s toll-free number appear on the caller ID, call center background noise, and false agent badge numbers. If the consumer is not already convinced, the scammer may even give you the last four digits of your Social Security number. Those who hang up on the caller may receive another call soon after from a scammer claiming to be a police officer or a DMV agent.

Some of the typical ways scammers work:

▪ Demand immediate payment using a specific method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail you a bill if you owe any taxes.

▪ Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.

▪ Demand payment without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.

▪ Ask for credit card or debit card numbers over the phone.

BBB suggests that you should never give any money or credit card info over the phone to someone you do not know. If you give out credit card info, you are authorizing that person to add charges to your account. If they ask you to get a preloaded card and you give them that info, they can take all of the money loaded on the card.

If you think you might have some back taxes that need to be paid, call the IRS at 800-829-1040. Verify it. The scammer might be able to use a real IRS number on the caller ID, but if you call IRS yourself, you can be sure you are talking to an actual IRS agent.

If you have received one of these calls or become a victim, you can call TIGTA at 800-366-4484 to report. You may also want to file a complaint with the FTC at ftc.gov. If you think you have been a victim of this scam please call BBB at 800-675-8118.

Action Line is written by Blair Looney, president and CEO for the Better Business Bureau serving Central California. Send your consumer concerns, questions and problems to Action Line at the Better Business Bureau, 2600 W. Shaw Lane, Fresno, CA 93711 or info@cencal.bbb.org.

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