For Immediate Release - July 22, 2014

AG Coakley Alerts Consumers to be Wary of Tax Telephone Scam

IRS “Imposters” Aggressively Target Taxpayers by Phone in Nationwide Scam

BOSTON – Attorney General Martha Coakley is alerting all consumers to be wary of a nationwide scam that is aggressively targeting taxpayers, including recent immigrants, throughout the Commonwealth and the country.

“These scams prey on well-meaning taxpayers that are trying to do the right thing,” AG Coakley said. “They are often aggressive and may involve information about an individual and their family to make the scenario sound authentic. Consumers should not be afraid to ask questions, say no, and simply hang up the phone if they believe the caller is attempting to perpetrate a scam.”

The scammer claims to be from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or another government agency or law firm, and typically calls the victim informing them that they will be arrested, or a tax lien will be placed on their home because they did not pay or did not correctly file state or federal income taxes. The scammer is very persistent and aggressive and may use some personally identifying information about the victim, including the last four numbers of the target’s social security number, to make the scheme sound authentic.

The following text transcription and audio link are an example of a voice message received by a consumer in Massachusetts:

”Hi this is Don calling you from the crime investigation unit of the IRS, Internal Revenue Services. The reason of this call is to inform you that the IRS has issued a warrant against you and your physical property is being monitored right now. So it is very important that we hear a call back from you today. My call back number is (206) 436-4856. I repeat the number is (206) 436-4856. Thank you and goodbye.”

Victims are told they must settle the debt over the phone by providing their debit or credit card numbers or immediately wiring out funds, to avoid being arrested. If the victim refuses to cooperate, the caller becomes hostile and insulting and will threaten the victim with arrest, deportation, loss of property, or suspension of a business or driver’s license. If the victim hangs up, others soon call back stating they are the police (often providing a fake name and badge number) and that they will arrest the victim if payment is not made.

Taxpayers should be advised that the IRS or the Department of Revenue will never ask for credit card numbers over the phone, nor request a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer.

If you believe that you are a victim or target of this scam please be advised of the following precautions and resources available:

  1. Call the IRS at (800) 829-1040. The IRS employees at that line can help you with a payment issue – if there really is such an issue.
  2. The IRS also recommends that you report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at (800) 366-4484.
  3. If you’ve been targeted by this scam, you should also contact the Federal Trade Commission and use their FTC Complaint Assistant at FTC.gov. Please add "IRS Telephone Scam" to the comments of your complaint.
  4. For more information, go to www.irs.gov and type "scam" in the search box.

The Attorney General’s Office fields thousands of inquiries pertaining to scams and can direct consumers to the appropriate agency to file a complaint. Additional information and resources pertaining to consumer scams are available on the Attorney General’s website

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