(BATON ROUGE, LA)— Tax season is in full gear, and that means scammers are too. Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell is warning citizens to be on the lookout for phone and email scams in which someone claims to be the IRS or other government official in an attempt to steal the victim’s tax refund or personal identity.
According to Caldwell, scammers will email victims with links to phony websites that are intended to mirror the official IRS website. These bogus sites direct victims to update their personal information, all in an effort to gain access to the victim’s tax return and steal their identity. Many times con-artists will make phone calls using spoofing technology that mimics a government agency’s name and telephone number on the victim’s caller ID. The caller typically tries to intimidate the victim into making a payment via debit card, credit card or wire service.
“Con artists recognize that consumers are more likely to fall for tax-related scams this time of year, and the scammers use that to their full advantage,” says Caldwell. “These criminals use deceptive phone calls, fraudulent emails or out-and-out threats in their schemes. However, there are ways consumers can protect themselves and their tax refunds.”
If you receive a phone call or email from someone claiming to be from the IRS, Attorney General Buddy Caldwell advises you that there are several ways to spot a scam. Con artists will most likely:
- Call or email you about money you owe without first mailing you an official notice.
- Demand that you pay without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
- Require you to use a specific payment method for your payment, such as a prepaid debit card or wire transfer.
- Ask for credit or debit card numbers via phone or email.
- Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
Please note that the IRS never calls to demand payments, nor does it reach out by phone to consumers about taxes owed without first sending a bill.
If you are contacted by someone claiming to be from the IRS who you think may be a scammer, you should:
- Refrain from communication with the solicitor and contact the IRS directly. The IRS can be reached at (800) 829.1040 or IRS.gov.
- Report all unsolicited email claiming to be from the IRS or an IRS-related function to email@example.com.
For more information about this or other consumer-related issues, visit www.AGBuddyCaldwell.com or call the Attorney General’s consumer protection hotline, (800)351.4889.