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The Internal Revenue Service this week warned taxpayers to stay vigilant against an increase of IRS impersonation scams in the form of automated calls and new tactics from scammers demanding tax payments on iTunes and other gift cards.
The IRS said it has seen an increase in “robo-calls” where scammers leave urgent callback requests through the phone telling taxpayers to call back to settle their “tax bill.” These fake calls generally claim to be the last warning before legal action is taken. Once the victim calls back, the scammers may threaten to arrest, deport or revoke the driver’s license of the victim if they don’t agree to pay.
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In the latest trend, IRS impersonators are demanding payments on iTunes and other gift cards. The IRS reminds taxpayers that any request to settle a tax bill by putting money on any form of gift card is a clear indication of a scam.
Indeed…In July the Federal Trade Commission also warned of this seemingly ludicrous demand – that gift cards would some how placate the real IRS. From Network World’s Paul McNamara Buzzblog column on the FTC warning: “People have told the FTC about scammers who called and demanded iTunes cards as “payment.” Bogus “IRS agents” told people they owed back taxes and would be arrested soon, unless they bought an iTunes card and gave the code to the “agent.” Phony “government grant” officers called and promised a big payout, after the person bought an iTunes card and read the code to the “grant officer.” Other fraudsters told people their grandkids were in jail and the only way to help was — you guessed it — to buy an iTunes card and read the code over the phone. All the stories were false.”
“It used to be that most of these bogus calls would come from a live-person. Scammers are evolving and using more and more automated calls in an effort to reach the largest number of victims possible,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen in a statement. “Taxpayers should remain alert for this summer surge of phone scams, and watch for clear warning signs as these scammers change tactics.”
In the past the IRS has noted a number of new variations on old schemes:
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The IRS once again reminded everyone it will never: