56ºF

IRS: Impostors 'duped' Florida taxpayers

Residents lost $1.5 million to IRS phone impostors


The IRS is issuing a  warning to tax payers that  “aggressive and threatening phone calls by criminals impersonating IRS agents” are still a major concern in central Florida and across the state.

The announcement comes  after a News 6   investigation found the bogus calls are starting to increase and appear to originate from cities on both the West and East coasts.

Michael Dobzinski a spokesman for the Internal Revenue Service in Tampa tells News 6 the callers  usually threaten a “law suit or deportation. “

He says the calls have been intimidating enough to convince tax payers to pay out  money they never owed.

“To put statistics in a frame of mind," Dobzinski says. “We’ve seen, since October 2013,about 245 victims in Florida that have paid out close to $1.5 million they’ve actually been duped and paid over to these scammers.”

News 6 viewers say the calls appear to came from cities  across  the country the latest area codes are 509 (Washington state)  and 202 (Washington D.C.)

“A lot of these calls originate from outside the United States some inside the United States so they are difficult to track,” Dobzinski says.

Tracy Smith an attorney for River Oaks Builders in Maitland says she received two calls last week on her personal cell phone.

“They don’t use your name," Smith says, “It  almost seems like it’s one of those auto dial things and they’re just going and going and going until they get a response.”

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration announced it has received reports of roughly 896,000 contacts since October 2013 and have “become aware of over 5,000 victims who have collectively paid over $26.5 million as a result of the scam.”

The IRS will never:

· Call to demand immediate payment, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.

· Demand that you pay taxes 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 taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.

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

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

· Contact TIGTA to report the call. Use their “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” web page. You can also call 800-366-4484.

· Report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on FTC.gov. Please add "IRS Telephone Scam" in the notes.

If you know you owe, or think you may owe tax:

· Call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS workers can help you.

Stay alert to scams that use the IRS as a lure. Tax scams can happen any time of year, not just at tax time. For more, visit “Tax Scams and Consumer Alerts” on IRS.gov.

Each and every taxpayer has a set of fundamental rights they should be aware of when dealing with the IRS. These are your Taxpayer Bill of Rights. Explore your rights and our obligations to protect them on IRS.gov.


About the Author: