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The largest-ever IRS phone scam is making the rounds. Thousands of victims have been conned out of more than $1 million by fraudsters posing as IRS agents demanding tax payments.
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) says it has received more than 20,000 complaints from people, including recent immigrants, about the scam, Reuters reports.
How does the massive tax scam work, and what should consumers watch out for?
IRS Tax Scam
The IRS phone scam begins with a call from someone posing as an IRS agent, telling intended victims they owe taxes and must pay using a prepaid debit card or wire transfer. The fraudsters threaten those who refuse to pay with arrest, deportation or loss of a business or driver's license, Reuters reports.
To make the scam seem more legitimate, the scammers often know the last four digits of the taxpayer's Social Security number. Don't rely on your caller ID to identify the scam -- the scammers can manipulate a victim's caller ID to display a local IRS office number.
In many cases, taxpayers -- particularly those who hang up on the call -- will get follow-up calls that appear to be from their state motor vehicle agency or the police. The scammers also send follow-up emails that mimic the IRS insignia and even appear to be signed by real IRS officials.
IRS Tax Scam Red Flags
The IRS contacts taxpayers by U.S. mail. The IRS will never do any of the following things:
What to Do If You Get a Call
If you receive a call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and he or she is asking for payment, here's what to do about the consumer scam:
Also, don't open emails that are purportedly from the IRS (and definitely don't open attachments or click on links in the email). Forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.