Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro is warning residents about scams from people impersonating IRS agents during this tax season.
“Scam artists are always looking for ways to steal from consumers, and during tax season, impersonating the IRS and trying to scare you into paying them thousands of dollars becomes a popular tactic,” Shapiro said in a news release Tuesday.
Shapiro shared an example of a Berks County woman who was scammed out of $10,000 after a caller claiming to be from the IRS said she owed thousands of dollars in back taxes, and that agents were waiting outside her home to arrest her if she did not pay immediately.
In that scam, the woman withdrew money from her bank account and, following instructions from the caller, went to retail stores, purchased gift cards and read the gift card information over the phone.
The attorney general’s Bureau of Consumer Protection offered some tips and reminders to avoid being scammed:
- The IRS does not use threatening or aggressive calls to claim money. The IRS will not threaten to involve police, immigration officers or other law enforcement if payment is not made promptly.
- The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers via email, text or social media, especially when seeking personal financial information.
- Do not trust the number on the caller ID, even if it appears to be coming from the IRS. Scam artists can spoof numbers or trick the caller ID.
- Do not give out personal information over the phone, even if the caller claims to be from the IRS or a bank.
- The IRS does not require taxpayers to use a specific method of payment, such as pre-paid debit card, money order, wire transfer, gift cards or cash.
Shapiro encouraged residents to also be wary of pursuing tax refund anticipation checks. Companies offering this charge high interest rates and take exorbitant fees off the full refund the taxpayer earned.
For those who believe they have been victims of IRS scams or other scams, they can file a complaint with the Bureau of Consumer Protection by calling 800-441-2555 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.