RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Virginia State Police are warning residents of an ongoing phone scam in which the caller says he is calling from the IRS and demands payment by verbally threatening and intimidating the individual.
In addition, the caller ID number used by this scam is a legitimate Virginia State Police Area Office phone number.
State police have received numerous calls concerning this scam within the past few days.
In each case, the caller has a “thick foreign accent” and identifies him/herself as working for the IRS.
The scammer also has personal information about the individual being called – information that can be commonly found by searching the Internet.
If the individual refuses to pay, then the fake IRS caller becomes very agitated and impatient, and begins threatening the individual with imprisonment or other severe punishment if the person does not promise to provide payment.
Also adding confusion and concern for those being targeted by the fake IRS caller is the use of a legitimate state police office number with an 804 area code.
This is known as “spoofing” and enables the caller to disguise his true identity. Spoofing is often used as part of an attempt to trick someone into giving away valuable personal information so it can be used in fraudulent activity or sold illegally.
U.S. law and FCC rules prohibit most types of spoofing.
The IRS phone scam is common and often preys on senior citizens.
One individual reported to State Police on Wednesday, August 17 that she had just sent the caller $2,000 in gift cards.
Just this week the Fredericksburg Police Department reported a 72-year-old resident was targeted and scammed out of more than $12,000.
Common characteristics of the IRS Phone Scam are as follows:
- Scammers use fake names and IRS badge numbers. They generally use common names and surnames to identify themselves.
- Scammers may be able to recite the last four digits of a victim’s Social Security Number.
- Scammers 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 with jail time or driver’s license revocation, scammers hang up and others soon call back pretending to be from the local police or DMV, and the caller ID supports their claim.
If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, here’s what you should do:
- If you know you owe taxes or you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS at 1.800.829.1040. The IRS employees at that line can help you with a payment issue – if there really is such an issue.
- If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to think that you owe any taxes (for example, you’ve never received a bill or the caller made some bogus threats as described above), then call and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1.800.366.4484.
- You can file a complaint using the FTC Complaint Assistant; choose “Other” and then “Imposter Scams.” If the complaint involves someone impersonating the IRS, include the words “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.
Additional ways to prevent you and your loved ones from falling victim to any phone scam are as follows:
- Never give out personal information such as account numbers, Social Security numbers, mother’s maiden names, passwords or other identifying information in response to unexpected calls or if you are at all suspicious.
- If you get an inquiry from someone who says they represent a company or a government agency seeking personal information, hang up and call the phone number on your account statement, in the phone book or on the company’s or government agency’s website to verify the authenticity of the request.
- Use caution if you are being pressured for information immediately.
- If you have a voice mail account with your phone service, be sure to set a password for it. Some voicemail services are preset to allow access if you call in from your own phone number. A hacker could spoof your home phone number and gain access to your voice mail if you do not set a password.