CONSUMER ALERT: ATTORNEY GENERAL HERRING WARNS VIRGINIANS ABOUT IRS IMPOSTER SCAMS
RICHMOND (September 2016) – Today Attorney General Mark Herring cautioned consumers to remain vigilant about IRS/tax imposter scams. The Virginia Attorney General's Office has received many reports of instances in which Virginia residents were contacted via telephone or e-mail by an individual who claimed to be with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) trying to trick consumers into making payments or giving up their personal information.
The IRS is the government agency that collects taxes on behalf of the federal government, and the scammers can sound official and be very convincing. They may give you a badge number and have information about you, for example, your home address and the last four digits of your social security number. To make things worse, the scammers often have technology that masks their caller ID information, or may indicate that the call is coming from the IRS when it, in fact, is not. E-mails may appear official with government seals and logos.
"It can be very distressing to receive a communication from a government agency telling you that you owe money,” Attorney General Herring said. "The scammers know this and will prey upon your fears and your desire to cooperate with the government.”
There are several warning signs of these scams. The scammer may:
*Indicate that you owe taxes to the federal government;
*Demand immediate payment and convey a sense of urgency;
* Threaten to have you prosecuted or arrested, or have your driver's license revoked;
*Request that you pay via credit card, debit card, prepaid debit card, or money transfer; and
*Ask for your personal information, including your bank account information and/or social security number.
The presence of one or more of these signs should immediately raise red flags with you. The IRS never initiates contact with taxpayers via telephone or e-mail, and will never ask that you provide payment in a specific way. The IRS also will never discuss your personal tax issues via unsolicited e-mail, text message, or social media.
If you receive a telephone or e-mail solicitation from someone purporting to be from the IRS, you should do the following:
*If you think you might owe taxes call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040. The IRS can assist you in making necessary payments.
*If you know you do not owe taxes, report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1-800-366-4484 or at www.tigta.gov
*File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov/complaint or 1-877-FTC-HELP.