The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s “Fraud Friday” focus this week is on phone scammers claiming to be officials from the Internal Revenue Service, which only uses U.S. Postal Service mail.
Here’s the feature:
“Throughout the years, many taxpayers have encountered individuals impersonating Internal Revenue Service officials, whether it be in person, over the telephone or via email. Don’t fall victim to this scam.
“The LASD and the IRS want you to understand how and when the IRS contacts taxpayers and help you determine whether indeed the contact is from an IRS employee.
“The IRS contacts taxpayers through regular mail delivered by the United States Postal Service.
“Scams take many shapes and forms, such as phone calls, letters and emails. Many IRS impersonators use threats to intimidate and bully people into paying a fabricated tax bill. They may even threaten to arrest or deport their would-be victim if the victim doesn’t comply.
“Here are some methods used by scammers provided by the IRS to protect you and your family:
• Scammers will call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail a bill to any taxpayer who owes taxes.
• They will demand that you pay taxes without the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe. You should also be advised of your rights as a taxpayer.
• Some may threaten to bring in local police, immigration officers or other law-enforcement to have you arrested for not paying.
“NOTE: The IRS also cannot revoke your driver’s license, business licenses, or immigration status. Threats like these are common tactics scam artists use to trick victims into buying into their schemes.
“Final thought: Never give out any personal information if a scammer requests it. An official IRS employee will already have your information.
“If you are a taxpayer and have questions, you should contact the International Taxpayer Service Call Center by phone or fax.
“The International Call Center is open Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. (Eastern Time). Phone 267-941-1000 (not toll-free) or fax 267-466-1055 (for international tax account issues only).”