CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, in accordance with National Consumer Protection Week 2017, alerted consumers to a phone scam that targets consumers during tax season each year.
The scam typically starts with a phone call indicating the Internal Revenue Service will arrest the consumer if they don’t follow instructions. Similar calls claim to represent the U.S. Treasury Department or legal affairs among other groups.
The consumer typically learns the matter is urgent in that he or she owes immediate payment. Threats of imminent arrest often follow whenever the consumer refuses to cooperate or questions the caller’s legitimacy.
“Being contacted by the IRS can be intimidating, especially if they’re demanding money,” Morrisey said. “Scammers know this and use it to their advantage. It’s important to verify the caller’s authenticity before taking any action.”
The IRS impostors will, at times, use common names. They may also claim to know the last four digits of the consumer’s Social Security number and pose as their own supervisor anytime the consumer asks for management.
Other characteristics to watch for include, but are not limited, to the following: Use out-of-state telephone numbers. Use of automated calling machines. Use of fake government badge numbers and phony emails. Follow-up calls claiming to represent a different agency. Caller ID information to support their bogus representation.
Morrisey strongly urges all consumers to ignore such calls, do not return voicemails and report any victimization to the U.S. Inspector General’s Office on Tax Administration via http://1.usa.gov/1ClYZbP or via email at Complaints@tigta.treas.gov or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Questions can be directed to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 800-368-8808 statewide or 304-267-0239 in Martinsburg. To file a report online, go to www.wvago.gov.
Submitted by the office of West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey.