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IRS warns about phone scams, phishing as 2015 tax season gets underway

3,000 victims have paid over $14 million as a result of scams, IRS commissioner says

The IRS is kicking off the Dirty Dozen tax scams campaign for 2015 this week with pervasive phone scam and phishing the first of 12 alerts for taxpayers.

Also, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration said the agency has received reports of roughly 290,000 contacts since October 2013 and has become aware of nearly 3,000 victims who have collectively paid over $14 million as a result of these scams. They involve individuals making unsolicited calls to taxpayers, fraudulently claiming to be IRS officials and demanding that they send cash via prepaid debit cards.

Aggressive and threatening phone calls by criminals impersonating IRS agents remain near the top of the annual "Dirty Dozen" list of tax scams for the 2015 filing season.

The IRS has seen a surge of these phone scams in recent months as scam artists threaten police arrest, deportation, license revocation and other things. The IRS reminds taxpayers to guard against all sorts of con games that arise during any filing season.

"If someone calls unexpectedly claiming to be from the IRS with aggressive threats if you don't pay immediately, it's a scam artist calling," said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. "The first IRS contact with taxpayers is usually through the mail."

"Taxpayers have rights, and this is not how we do business," he added.

The IRS also warned taxpayers to watch out for fake emails or websites looking to steal personal information. These "phishing" schemes continue to be on the annual IRS list of "Dirty Dozen" tax scams for the 2015 filing season.

"The IRS won't send you an email about a bill or refund out of the blue," Koskinen said. "Don't click on one claiming to be from the IRS that takes you by surprise."

"I urge taxpayers to be wary of clicking on strange emails and websites," he added. "They may be scams to steal your personal information."

Compiled annually, the "Dirty Dozen" lists a variety of common scams that taxpayers may encounter anytime, but many of these schemes peak during filing season as people prepare their returns or find people to help with their taxes.

Comments

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood

on Jan 26, 2015 at 8:29 am

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?


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Posted by Lexi
a resident of Stoneridge
on Jan 26, 2015 at 10:20 am

Thanks for the warning about "phishing". I have an 88-year old friend and she has had several phone calls from people claiming to be her grandson/granddaughter asking for money. Fortunately, she has not fallen for any of these scams. Seems that the elderly are being targeted quite often by these unscrupulous people! If you are a care provider for a senior citizen, please warn them about this danger.


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Posted by Longtimer
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 27, 2015 at 9:35 am

I received a call about 3 weeks ago from ... 'Franklin with the IRS', with threats and warnings using all the scary words like...Tax Audit, Dept of Internal Revenue services, reason to believe, Federal Claims Court, warrant for your arrest, but before this happens call 804 433-3151...this is officer Franklin.
I am a senior, and never answer the phone unless it shows a name or number I know. I just listen to the message & take down key words, as they leave message. I called police, but they said call FTC or FCC, don't recall at the moment. I have not called. Because I keep myself informed I instantly recalled, almost word for word, the IRS warning I had heard on a tv news show.
I was hacked at Target, and shortly after I started getting monthly robo calls from "Peter" who wants to send appraisers to make an offer on my house. Foreign, obviously a 'senior scam' to take homes from the gullible. Of course I never answer. Also, I never do anything financial online...nothing! never have. And I do not do business with any co that uses Facebook, which I will never use in this lifetime. Yet scammers do find ways to harass us.


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Posted by Damon
a resident of Foothill Knolls
on Jan 27, 2015 at 9:50 am

@Longtimer: "I received a call about 3 weeks ago from ... 'Franklin with the IRS', with threats and warnings using all the scary words like...Tax Audit, Dept of Internal Revenue services, reason to believe, Federal Claims Court, warrant for your arrest, but before this happens call 804 433-3151...this is officer Franklin."

Whenever you get a suspicious call like that, just go to your computer and Google the telephone number to see if anyone else has reported getting calls from the same number. I just Googled "804 433-3151" and found several websites where many people reported also getting calls from this "officer Franklin". It's a scam.

800notes website: Calls from telephone number 804-433-3151: Web Link


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Posted by Longtimer
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 27, 2015 at 10:03 am

Of course I did, and I always do that automatically on all calls, even to see if it's somebody I know. But for scam tracking, enforcement needs to know the frequency of the known scams and scammers.


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