Beware of calls from IRS impersonators

Authorities are warning people about a massive phone scam involving callers posing as Internal Revenue Service officials to defraud people.

The Treasury Inspector General for Taxpayer Administration reported last week an estimated $1 million has been lost to the scam that has taken in thousands of victims nationwide.

More than 20,000 such calls have been reported, with reports coming from nearly every state, a news release on the scam said. Calls have been received in Medford.

J. Russell George, the treasury inspector general for tax administration, called it "the largest scam of its kind that we have ever seen."

Callers claiming to be from the IRS tell intended victims they owe taxes and must pay using a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer, the news release said. The scammers threaten those who refuse to pay with arrest, deportation or loss of a business or driver's license.

The IRS usually first contacts people by mail — not by phone — about unpaid taxes, officials said. The agency doesn't ask for payment via a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer and won't ask for a credit card number over the phone. It doesn't seek personal or financial information by email, text or social media.

Anyone who receives a suspicious call from someone posing as an IRS representative should report the incident to Treasury Inspector General for Taxpayer Administration at 800-366-4484. Complaints also can be filed with the Federal Trade Commission at www.FTC.gov. Add "IRS Telephone Scam" to the complaint comments.

Read more about tax scams on the genuine IRS website at www.irs.gov.


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