State Officials Warn Consumers: Beware, IRS Phone Scams Still Active
HARTFORD, February 9 – Scammers targeting taxpayers by representing that they're from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) are still active, and consumers should NOT give in to their bogus demands, Attorney General George Jepsen, Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner Jonathan A. Harris, and Department of Revenue Services Commissioner Kevin B. Sullivan said today.
Although fake “IRS calls” were occurring statewide before the most recent Anthem data breach, officials are concerned that exposure of additional consumer data could lead to increased scam attempts against consumers.
So-called “IRS scams” increased by 2,300 percent nationally in 2014, and complaints to the Department of Consumer Protection grew from a handful in 2013 to close to 40 last year.
“State government is proactively protecting residents – we will go after scams and criminals aggressively,” Governor Malloy said. “Our agencies are working day and night to look after consumers and make sure that residents aren’t taken advantage of by deceptive practices.”
“Any call or email supposedly from the IRS or FBI – or even a utility company -- that demands immediate payment or threatens arrest is bogus, and should be treated as such,” Harris said. “State and federal agencies and legitimate businesses do not use threats and coercion on consumers, nor do they conduct official business by phone or email. This is all the evidence you need in order to know that it’s a scammer on the other end of the phone line.”
“If you get a call from the “IRS” demanding money, ask for the caller’s name and telephone number, and then hang up the phone, and notify your local police department immediately,” Attorney General Jepsen said. “Do not confirm or give the caller any personal or financial information, and never send the caller money or go out and buy Green Dot cards at their demand, regardless how threatening the caller is.”
Email messages claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service or Federal Bureau of Investigation should also be dismissed, Commissioner Kevin Sullivan said, even if they look official.
“The Internal Revenue Service contacts people via letter, and does not demand that persons immediately transfer money or send a prepaid debit card to pay taxes,” he said. “Also, the IRS does not ask for PINs, passwords or similar confidential access information for credit cards, banks or other financial accounts.”
Sullivan added that because of the still unknown extent of the Anthem data breach and phishing of TurboTax (Intuit) online filers, Connecticut taxpayers filing for refunds should do so quickly, but also be prepared for delays receiving their refunds while the Department of Revenue Services takes added precautions.
If you are worried that a call from the IRS is real, because you know you owe taxes, contact the IRS directly at 800-829-1040 or go to www.irs.gov. Fraudulent emails purporting to be from the IRS should be forwarded to email@example.com.
If you become a target of this scam, it’s also helpful to file a consumer complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov, and add "IRS Telephone Scam" to the comments of your complaint.
Consumers with questions can contact the Attorney General's Consumer Assistance Unit at 860-808-5420, the Department of Consumer Protection at 1-800-842-2649 or the Department of Revenue Services at 860-297-5962.