Consumers alerted to increase in IRS scam calls


OHIO VALLEY — Consumers should be on alert due to a recent spike in Internal Revenue Service scam calls, perhaps related to the upcoming Oct. 15 filing deadline for those who sought an extension in April, according to a news release from West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s office.

The scam typically starts with a phone call indicating the IRS will arrest the consumer if he or she refuses to follow instructions. Similar calls claim to represent the U.S. Treasury Department, legal affairs and other groups.

THe calls are not limited to West Virginia residents, as those in Ohio have been receiving similar calls.

The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division has fielded hundreds of calls within the past week related to the IRS scam. That includes news of a couple of consumers losing money when they purchased gift cards to comply with the caller’s demands.

“Consumers must be cautious and cannot allow themselves to be intimidated,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “Any such call is a scare tactic used by scammers in an attempt to squeeze money from consumers’ pockets.”

Targeted consumers typically are told they owe immediate payment. Threats of imminent arrest often follow when the consumer refuses to cooperate or questions the caller’s legitimacy.

The IRS impostor will, at times, use common names. They also may 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:

  • Caller ID information to support their bogus representation
  • 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

The Attorney General 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 phishing@irs.gov.

In West Virginia, questions also can be directed to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 800-368-8808 statewide. To file a report online, go to www.wvago.gov.

Ohioans who suspect a scam should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at 800-282-0515 or www.OhioProtects.org.