HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) --The Internal Revenue Service is warning taxpayers of a new scam that's sweeping the nation. This scam starts as a simple phone call. The caller claims they represent the IRS. They'll ask for a certain member of the household and then they'll try to trick you into giving out personal information.
"A local man called our office and let us know that he got a call from someone with a thick accent saying he was with the IRS and there were some concerns they needed to discuss," said Michele Mason, president of the Better Business Bureau of North Alabama.
The scam artists picked the wrong man. Donny Maleknia is on the board at the BBB. He told WHNT News 19 that they called his home phone, asking to speak to his wife.
"He said you have problem with IRS and she is in trouble," said Maleknia. "We'll come and pick her up or you better do something about it."
Donny said he knew better than to fall for that. "I said what kind of information do you need and he said he needed her social. I said excuse me?"
Maleknia said the caller went on to say that he needed his wife's social security number. "I said first, I don't have it and second, I'm not giving it to you."
"They're going to tell you either that you owe money or that there's an issue and they're either going to try to get you to give out account information, social security number or get you to put money on a prepaid credit card," said Mason.
Don't fall for it. If there's an issue, the IRS will usually send out a letter in the mail first. "Also, when they're reaching out to you, they shouldn't have to verify your social security number," she said. "They already know who they're contacting."
The IRS wants consumers to know this is going on so you can protect yourself.
"Sometimes its hard to do that," said Mason. "You get that call from a federal agency where someone says there's issues, all your reasoning goes out the window."
"Just hang up the phone and let them know you know what they're doing," said Maleknia. "I'm not dumb, I'm not stupid, I know what's going on and do not give any information to anybody, I don't care who it is."
Other characteristics of this scam 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.
If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, here’s what you should do:
- If you know you owe taxes or you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS at 1.800.829.1040. The IRS employees at that line can help you with a payment issue – if there really is such an issue.
- If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to think that you owe any taxes (for example, you’ve never received a bill or the caller made some bogus threats as described above), then call and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1.800.366.4484.
- 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.