SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The Santa Barbara Police Department is reminding the public about a phone scam targeting taxpayers during this tax season.
Residents may get a call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and threatening police arrest, deportation or license revocation if the resident doesn't pay immediately. But IRS Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel says this is a clear indication it's not the IRS calling.
"Rest assured, we do not and will not ask for credit card numbers over the phone, nor request a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer,” said Werfel. He says the first IRS contact with taxpayers on any tax related issue will likely occur via mail.
Characteristics of the scam include:
- Scammers use fake names and IRS badge numbers. They generally use common names and surnames to identify themselves.
- Scammers may be able to recite the last four digits of a victim’s Social Security Number.
- Scammers spoof the IRS toll-free number on caller ID to make it appear that it’s the IRS calling.
- Scammers sometimes send bogus IRS emails to some victims to support their bogus calls.
- Victims hear background noise of other calls being conducted to mimic a call site.
- After threatening victims with jail time or driver’s license revocation, scammers hang up and others soon call back pretending to be from the local police or DMV, and the caller ID supports their claim.
Officials say anyone that receives a call from someone claiming to be from the IRS should do the following:
- If you know you owe taxes or you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS at 1.800.829.1040. The IRS employees at that line can help you with a payment issue – if there really is such an issue.
- If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to think that you owe any taxes (for example, you’ve never received a bill or the caller made some bogus threats as described above), then call and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1.800.366.4484.
- You can file a complaint using the FTC Complaint Assistant; choose “Other” and then “Imposter Scams.” If the complaint involves someone impersonating the IRS, include the words “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.
Authorities also warn residents of other scams involving lottery sweepstakes and solicitations that claim to be from the IRS. They also remind the public not to open any attachments or click on any links contained in email messages claiming to be from the IRS and asking recipients for personal information. Instead, officials ask those types of emails be forwarded to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition to contacting the IRS, anyone who believes they may have been a victim of this scam is asked to contact the Santa Barbara Police Department at 805-897-2300 or your local law enforcement agency.