Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden is encouraging consumers to take extra precaution to avoid being victimized by telemarketing scams involving callers posing as Internal Revenue Service employees.
For several years now, a telephone scam involving criminals impersonating officials with the IRS or the U.S. Department of the Treasury have harmed and harassed thousands of consumers nationwide, Wasden said.
Recently, federal officials said the IRS telephone scam had reached “epidemic” levels and urged taxpayers to be on high alert. In Idaho, Wasden said the number of complaints filed with his Consumer Protection Division clearly show the IRS scam is the leading example of telemarketing fraud statewide.
?“With the tax season in full swing, it’s especially critical for Idaho consumers to be aware of this scam and the intent of criminals to take people’s hard-earned money,” Wasden said. “Based on the volume of complaints, the IRS scam is clearly the top concern in my office and the impact these calls are having on consumers is significant.”Tools are available for consumers to protect themselves from the IRS scam and other telemarketing fraud, Wasden said.
It’s also critical to understand that IRS agents who are assigned to cases of unpaid taxes reach out to taxpayers via mail, not the telephone, Wasden said.
“If someone calls impersonating an IRS agent and demanding payment with a debit card, money order or wire transfer to satisfy a tax debt, the best course of action is simply hanging up the phone,” Wasden said. ?Criminals involved in this fraud typically:* Utilize an automated robocall machine
* Use common names and fake IRS badge numbers
* Make caller ID information appear as if the call originates with an IRS office
* Aggressively demand immediate payment to avoid criminal charges or arrest
* Send bogus emails to support their fraud
Last month, the Treasury Department reported receiving about 896,000 contacts from consumers about the IRS scam since Oct. 2013. Treasury officials also say they are aware of more than 5,000 victims reporting losses of more than $26.5 million.
If you believe that you may have been a victim, please contact the Consumer Protection Division at (208) 334-2424 or 800-432-3545. For tips on how to avoid becoming a victim of the IRS telemarketing scam, please visit the Internal Revenue Service.