Police in Andover are helping the Internal Revenue Service warn consumers and residents about a sophisticated phone scam targeting taxpayers, especially recent immigrants.
Andover Police report they have received a large volume of calls on the matter. According to a statement, an “agent” tells potential victims they owe money to the IRS and that they must pay immediately through a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer. The “agent” tells the victim that if they do not cooperate, they will be arrested, deported or their business or driver’s license will be suspended. The caller often intimidates the victim with hostility and insulting statements.
Authorities said it is nothing more than an attempt to victimize vulnerable residents, intimidating them into giving away their hard-earned money, and neither the police nor the IRS will ever threaten to arrest or deport anyone over unpaid taxes.
An Andover Police spokesperson said never purchase pre-paid debit cards to give to a caller, and never send a wire transfer to someone you do not know. Any money sent will be lost.
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 (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 (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.