CCSO received seven calls to the agency’s “Call Before You Pay” hotline this week from residents who said they got a phone call telling them they owe back taxes that must be paid immediately to the IRS, said Lt. Chad Parker of the sheriff’s Financial Crimes Bureau.
The scammers spoof the IRS toll-free number on caller ID to make it appear that it’s the IRS calling and threaten potential victims with arrest or revocation of their driver’s license, he said.
“They scare people into providing credit card numbers or making some kind of payment immediately,” Lt. Parker said.
CCSO reminds people that the IRS will always send taxpayers a written notification of any tax due via the U.S. mail. The IRS never asks for credit card, debit card or prepaid card information over the telephone.
Other characteristics of this scam may 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 sometimes send bogus IRS emails to some victims to support their bogus calls.
• When unsuccessful the first time sometimes phone scammers call back trying a different strategy.
• 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 the IRS advises 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.
The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by e-mail to request personal or financial information. This includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels. The IRS also does not ask for PINs, passwords or similar confidential access information for credit card, bank or other financial accounts. Recipients should not open any attachments or click on any links contained in the message. Instead, forward the e-mail to email@example.com.
CCSO encourages residents to be vigilant against phone and e-mail scams. For assistance with any suspicious encounter involving a request for money or personal information, contact the Collier County Sheriff’s Office’s Call Before You “Pay” hotline – (239) 252-CALL (2255). The hotline is staffed by a CCSO deputy in the Financial Crimes Bureau between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday