Police warn citizens of phone scams during tax season

By WEEK Producer

March 4, 2014 Updated Mar 4, 2014 at 10:48 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- Peoria Police urged citizens take caution Tuesday if they get a call from someone saying that they are with the IRS or Department of Treasury.

Authorities say the unknown caller tells the victim that they owe a large amount of money to the IRS and needs to pay immediately or face arrest.

Instructions are then given to stay on the phone, go to Wal-Mart, get a green dot card, and provide the tracking number.

Characteristics of these scams can include:

• Scammers use fake names and IRS badge numbers. They generally use common names and surnames to identify themselves.
• Scammers may be able to recite the last four digits of a victim’s Social Security Number.
• Scammers “spoof” or imitate the IRS toll-free number on caller ID to make it appear that it’s the IRS calling.
• Scammers sometimes send bogus IRS emails to some victims to support their bogus calls.
• Victims hear background noise of other calls being conducted to mimic a call site.

Police say that if you know you owe taxes or you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS at 800-829-1040. The IRS employees at that line can help you with a payment issue if there is an issue.

If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to think that you owe any taxes, call and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484.

If you have been targeted by these scams, you should also contact the Federal Trade Commission and use their “FTC Complaint Assistant” at FTC.gov.