IRS watchdog says phone scam is largest ever - FOX 10 News | myfoxphoenix.com

IRS watchdog says phone scam is largest ever

Posted: Updated:
  • Arizona HeadlinesMore>>

  • FOX 10 News Update

    Get a news update in 2 minutes

    Here is your news update for today, with some of our current top stories and your weather forecast!
    Here is your news update for today, with some of our current top stories and your weather forecast!

  • New bill enacts regulations for trampoline parks in Arizona

    New bill enacts regulations for trampoline parks in Arizona

    A bill was ceremoniously signed Thursday, and it puts in new regulations for trampoline parks across the state.It's the first bill of its kind in the country, and it's called Ty's Law, named in honor of 30-year-old Ty Thomasson.
    A bill was ceremoniously signed Thursday, and it puts in new regulations for trampoline parks across the state.It's the first bill of its kind in the country, and it's called Ty's Law, named in honor of 30-year-old Ty Thomasson.
  • New app tracks riptides letting people know about danger areas on the beach

    New app tracks riptides letting people know about danger areas on the beach

    A team of researchers in New Jersey are working on a new smart phone app that will help keep swimmers safe at the beach. The app will let swimmers know exactly where riptides are along the coast.
    A team of researchers in New Jersey are working on a new smart phone app that will help keep swimmers safe at the beach. The app will let swimmers know exactly where riptides are along the coast.

By STEPHEN OHLEMACHER
Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- More than 20,000 taxpayers have been targeted by fake Internal Revenue Service agents in the largest phone scam the agency has ever seen, the IRS inspector general said Thursday.

Thousands of victims have lost a total of more than $1 million.

As part of the scam, fake IRS agents call taxpayers, claim they owe taxes, and demand payment using a prepaid debit card or a wire transfer. Those who refuse are threatened with arrest, deportation or loss of a business or driver's license, said J. Russell George, Treasury inspector general for tax administration.

Real IRS agents usually contact people first by mail, George said. And they don't demand payment by debit card, credit card or wire transfer.

The inspector general's office started receiving complaints about the scam in August. Immigrants were the primary target early on, the IG's office said. But the scam has since become more widespread.

Tax scams often escalate during filing season, George said. People have been targeted in nearly every state.

"This is the largest scam of its kind that we have ever seen," George said in a statement. "The increasing number of people receiving these unsolicited calls from individuals who fraudulently claim to represent the IRS is alarming."

The script is similar in many calls, leading investigators to believe they are connected. The inspector general's office is working with major phone carriers to try to track the origins of the calls, the IG's office said.

The scam has been effective in part because the fake agents mask their caller ID, making it look like the call is coming from the IRS, George said. In some cases, fake agents know the last four digits of Social Security numbers, and follow up with official-looking emails.

They request prepaid debit cards because they are harder to trace than bank cards. Prepaid debit cards are different from bank cards because they are not connected to a bank account. Instead, consumers buy the cards at stores, and use them just like a bank card, until the money runs out or they add more.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Didn't find what
you were looking for?

Powered by WorldNow

KSAZ-TV & KUTP
511 W. Adams St.
Phoenix, AZ 85003

Phone: (602) 257-1234
Fax: (602) 262-0177

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices