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Q&A: Midwest City tax expert cautions consumers about IRS telephone scams

Tax expert Sean Reed shares examples of typical IRS phone scams, and advises what to do about them.
by Paula Burkes Modified: August 29, 2014 at 11:00 am •  Published: August 28, 2014

Q&A with Sean Reed

IRS calls for vigilance against giving telephone scammers data

Q: The Internal Revenue Service is warning consumers about an ongoing telephone scam. What is it this time?

A: Scammers, claiming to be with the IRS, are calling consumers about alleged tax bills and threatening jail time or revoked driver’s licenses if they don’t pay via an online electronic payment method or share debit or credit card information. If consumers don’t bite, scammers might call back with a new strategy, such as requesting account information so they can deposit alleged refunds. The agency has received some 90,000 complaints on its hotline; about 1,100 victims have lost an estimated $5 million.

Q: What’s a sample spiel by a scammer?

A: Scammers use fake common names and IRS badge numbers. Scammers may be able to recite the last four digits of a victim’s Social Security number. They spoof the IRS toll-free number on caller ID to make it appear that it’s the IRS calling, and sometimes send bogus IRS emails to some victims to support their bogus calls. Victims hear background noise of other calls being conducted to mimic a call site. After threatening victims, scammers hang up and others soon call back pretending to be from the local police or motor vehicles department, and the caller ID supports their claim.

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by Paula Burkes
A 1981 journalism graduate of Oklahoma State University, Paula Burkes has more than 30 years experience writing and editing award-winning material for newspapers and healthcare, educational and telecommunications institutions in Tulsa, Oklahoma...
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