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IRS: Five Tell-Tale Signs You're Being Scammed

Westport Police are warning residents about IRS phone scams around the region.
Westport Police are warning residents about IRS phone scams around the region. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

FAIRFIELD County, Conn. — You know the drill: You pick up the phone and someone claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service informs you you’ll be arrested or face fines and lawsuits if you don’t pay back taxes you supposedly owe.

Sound familiar?

Well, don’t fall for it, says Westport Police Department, which is warning residents about ongoing phone scams involving the IRS.

“The IRS will not ask for you to pay back taxes via GreenDot, Moneygram, electronic transfer and certainly not via a prepaid gift card,” the department announced in a statement Wednesday. “The IRS does not conduct its legitimate business in this manner.”

So how do you know you’re being scammed? The IRS has put out a list of five things the IRS will never do:

1. Call to demand immediate payment or call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.

2. Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.

3. Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.

4. Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

5. Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.

Should you receive a call of this nature, a quick internet search of the originating phone number will most likely return results showing it to be associated with scam activity. If you receive multiple calls from the same phone number, you can block that specific number by logging into your cellular phone account online.

If you know you owe taxes or think you might owe, call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040. IRS staff can help you with a payment issue.

If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to believe that you do, report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 1-800-366-4484 or at www.tigta.gov .

You can also report the incident to your local police department or file a complaint using the FTC Complaint Assistant. Choose “Other” and then “Impostor Scams.” If the complaint involves someone impersonating the IRS, include the words “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.

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