Phony IRS phone calls continue to harass Utahns

SALT LAKE CITY—Francine A. Giani, Executive Director of the Utah Department of Commerce, announced on Thursday that the Division of Consumer Protection continues to receive reports from Utah citizens called by con artists claiming to be Internal Revenue Service representatives who are demanding payments with threats of jail time, fines and other punishments if their requests aren’t met right away.

Some callers have claimed the Utah consumer has an IRS refund coming to them in order to gain personal bank account information.  According to the Internal Revenue Service, Spanish speaking residents have been threatened with deportation as well.  Whatever the phony phone call scenario, the IRS states their agency would never contact a citizen via phone involving a personal tax matter without first sending out official written correspondence.

Giani said:

Don’t fall for these phony phone calls! Fake IRS con artists will continue to circle the state trying to find someone who will take the bait. Remember an educated consumer is a scam artists’ worst nightmare.

The IRS scam even reached the home of Sen. Curtis S. Bramble whose wife received repeated threats from a bogus caller who claimed they owed thousands of dollars in back taxes.

“As a Certified Public Accountant who knows every dime that goes in and out of our accounts, my antenna immediately went up when my wife Susan alerted me to the telephone message,” Bramble said. ” She described the caller as verbally abusive and very convincing so we were concerned others might be conned into sending money that isn’t owed at all.”

As of Aug. 18, Utah residents reported $28,000 in losses due to IRS impersonation phone calls, according to the Treasury Inspector General of the Tax Administrator.  California residents reported the most losses at approximately $1 million, followed by New York and Florida.

Tips for Consumers: Five Red Flags

Below are five red flags to be aware of, actions that the Internal Revenue Service would never employ when contacting a citizen about their taxes:

  1. Call you regarding owed taxes without first mailing you an official notice
  2. Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount the IRS claims you owe
  3. Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card or send money via wire transfer
  4. Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone
  5. Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying

What to do if you get a Phony IRS phone call

If you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money, here are steps you can take:

  • If you know you owe taxes or think you might owe, call the IRS at 1-800-820-1040; IRS workers can help you with a payment issue
  • If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to believe that you do, report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1-800-366-4484 or online
  • You can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission online; if the complaint involves someone impersonating the IRS; include the words “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes

In addition, the IRS reminds the public that their employees do not use unsolicited emails, text messages or any social media to discuss personal tax issues.

For more information on reporting tax scams, go to the IRS website and type “scam” in the search box. For more information about the Utah Division of Consumer Protection go to their website.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.

 

 

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3 Comments

  • Lance September 26, 2014 at 9:31 am

    If people are foolish enough to fall for such a scam they deserve to be fleeced as many times as it takes them to learn.

  • Zonkerb September 26, 2014 at 5:42 pm

    Yep

  • lucy September 27, 2014 at 4:14 pm

    They’re the same red flags pointed out at Callercenter.com and it’s a good thing that we have access to useful information like that. Phone scams are prevalent and it’s important that we are proactive in educating ourselves and others about these schemes so we don’t fall victim.

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