Local news outlets in several states this fall are reporting spikes in calls from scammers claiming to be with the IRS. While the scams themselves may not be new, with callers warning that you owe money to the IRS for unpaid taxes, the timing may strike some as unusual.
In West Virginia, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey attributes recent upticks in such calls to the calendar. The AG says they are likely related to the upcoming Oct. 15 filing deadline for federal taxpayers who sought an extension last April.
The Mountain State's Consumer Protection Division "has received hundreds of calls about such a scam, including a few who lost money when they bought gift cards to comply with the caller's demands," according to a report by WHSV TV in nearby Harrisonburg, Va.
Meanwhile, local media In St. Cloud, Minn., are reporting a similar IRS scam. In this one, a caller will tell targets that they are facing criminal charges and must contact the IRS at a number provided by the caller or risk arrest. Residents of Fairfield County, Conn., are also reporting such calls.
"The caller claims a sum of money must be paid urgently or you will face arrest," local police recently told the Connecticut Post. They echo law enforcement in other municipalities, emphasizing "the IRS does not call people nor do they threaten to arrest."
Steps to protect yourself
Do not give out any of your personal information over the phone. If you receive a call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, remember:
If you do not owe taxes and never received a bill in the mail prior to the call, hang up immediately. Then call the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration to report the incident at 1-800-366-4484.
If you think you owe taxes, hang up and call the IRS on their official number at 1-800-829-1040 to validate the call. If there is a valid tax issue, the IRS employees at this number will assist you.
File a complaint with the FCC
Consumers can file complaints online about phone scams, including IRS impostor scams, telecom billing and service issues, unwanted calls, and other matters the FCC oversees. You can find information about the FCC's informal complaint process, including how to file a complaint, and what happens after a complaint is filed, on the FCC Complaint Center FAQ webpage.