Tax Problems Blog

September 19, 2017

IRS Telephone Impersonation Phone Scam – Still in the Dirty Dozen. Taxpayers to remain alert and Report.

Filed under: IRS Levy and Tax News — Administrator @ 10:41 am

For over 10 years, the IRS has provided on its web site the “Dirty Dozen” of tax scams. The IRS telephone impersonation scam is again included in the IRS’s 2017 “Dirty Dozen” list.

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration Semiannual Report to Congress (October 1, 2016 – March 31 2017) advises that between October, 2013 and March 31, 2017, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration logged more than 1.9 million contacts from taxpayers who reported that they had received telephone calls from individuals who claimed to be IRS employees.

During these telephone impersonation calls, the impersonators told the victims that they owed additional tax and that if they did not immediately pay they would be arrested, lose their driver’s licenses, or face other adverse consequences.

The scam involves substantial monies. As of March 31, 2017, the TIGTA reports that more than 10,300 victims reported that they had paid the impersonators a total amount in excess of $55 Million.

Although almost every State has victims, the top five states where victims suffered financial losses are: California, Florida, Illinois, New York, and Texas.

In addition to investigations, the TIGTA has developed other steps to counter this scam and protect taxpayers. Such have included identifying the impersonation scam telephone numbers and requesting the telephone carrier to take shut the number down; posting the scam-related telephone numbers on the Internet so that potential victims could search to determine if the call they received was part of the scam; and a TIGTA auto-dialer to call back the impersonators with a message ordering them to stop their criminal activity (occupied the impersonators time and telephone lines).

Technology is being looked at to stop the spoofed calls. In one situation almost two million calls were blocked that had been spoofed to appear as though the calls were being made from the IRS.

The companies used by the impersonators to monetize the scam have been cooperative in using techniques to help warn consumers. For example, when a prepaid debit card is purchased, there is a fraud warning that now appears on the signature screen. MoneyGram has placed banners on its kiosks advising customers “that if they have been told to pay their taxes by MoneyGram, it is a scam and they should not proceed with the transaction”. iTunes cards have been used by the impersonators as a means of cashing in on the fraud about 70 to 80 percent of the time. Nationwide, distribution of warning messages have been made at grocery and convenience stores.

TIGTA is continuing to urge taxpayer to remain on HIGH ALERT.

If you believe you have been a victim of an IRS Impersonation Scam, you can fill out a form at the TIGTA website. The link is here:

A copy of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration Semiannual Report to Congress (October, 2016 – March 31 2017) is HERE.

Note: The TIGTA website Alert, as of September, 2017, states the following:
“As of June 13, 2016, TIGTA has received additional information that callers impersonating Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or Treasury Department employees are demanding payments not only on iTunes Gift Cards but on other gift cards as well. Scam callers may also request payment of taxes on Green Dot Prepaid Cards, MoneyPak Prepaid Cards, Reloadit Prepaid Debit Cards, and other prepaid credit cards. These are fraudulent calls.’
“As a reminder, any call requesting that taxpayers place funds on an iTunes Gift Card or other gift cards to pay taxes and fees is an indicator of fraudulent activity! No legitimate United States Treasury or IRS official will demand that payments via Western Union, MoneyGram, bank wire transfers, or bank deposits be made into another person’s account for any debt to the IRS or Treasury. Hang up on these fraudulent callers and go to the TIGTA scam reporting page to report the call. …”

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