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IRS Phone Scam Hits Bay Area

Many Bay Area residents are reporting an IRS phone scam. A man has been calling residents and pretending to be an Internal Revenue Service agent, claiming that they owe large sums of money and that they will be arrested in an hour if they do not pay. The scammer then tells the person that the only way to avoid arrest is to process payment over the phone using a wire transfer or pre-paid card.

An elderly client of ours called the office after she received a call from the scammer. Not realizing it was a scam at first, an RFTM attorney called the person to clear up the situation. After we concluded that his claims were not supported, we called our client and told her not to listen to this person and contact authorities. Before she could do that, the scammer called her back, and aggressively pushed her to give him money, claiming that he already cleared it up with her attorney and that she would be arrested in 45 minutes if she did not comply.

We have looked into the matter and found that many Bay Area residents have been targeted by this IRS phone scam. The IRS is aware of these phone scams and has issued a memo to warn the public. Please keep the following in mind:

  • The IRS always sends taxpayers a written notification of any tax due via U.S. mail.
  • The IRS never asks for credit card, debit card or prepaid card information over the phone.
  • If the scammers fail on their first attempt, they may call back with a different approach, for example, claiming that the potential victim is entitled to a big refund.
  • Scammers may have the last four digits of a potential victim’s Social Security number.
  • Scammers may have a program to spoof the IRS toll-free number on caller ID to appear more legitimate.
  • Scammers may support their phone calls with fake emails, or more fake calls from the local police to support their initial claim.
  • The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or social media to request personal or financial information. Do not open any attachments or links in emails from the IRS.

If you or someone you know receives a phone call from an IRS scammer, here’s what you should do:

  • If you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 to speak with an actual IRS employee.
  • If you have no reason to think that you owe any taxes, or are certain that you don’t, report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1-800-366-4484.
  • Report the scam to the Federal Trade Commission and use their “FTC Complaint Assistant” at FTC.gov. Be sure to add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments of your complaint.
  • If you’ve received spoof emails from the IRS, forward the message to phishing@irs.gov.

Please spread the word about this phone scam.

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