Phoenix – Attorney General Mark Brnovich issued a scam alert today warning of an ongoing and very aggressive telephone scam that appears to be intensifying in Arizona. Approximately 70 IRS telephone scam complaints were filed with the Attorney General’s Office last month. The IRS phone scam mainly targets seniors. Scammers pose as agents with the Internal Revenue Service or the US Treasury Department. Victims are threatened with arrest if they don’t make an immediate payment for taxes or fines owed.
“These con-artists are using scare tactics to rip off some of the most vulnerable members of our community,” said Attorney General Mark Brnovich. “Arizonans need to remember the IRS will never call you and demand immediate payment."
The Arizona Attorney General’s Office initially saw the IRS phone scam ramp up during the 2015 tax season. Now it appears these scammers are aggressively targeting seniors year round especially in the Sun City area. Victims claimed they received 3 to 4 calls a day from scammers claiming to be a representative of the IRS or US Treasury Department. Victims are told there has been a warrant issued for their immediate arrest based on an audit of taxes filed from 2012 and 2013. Other victims are told they’ve committed a crime and need to make a payment to avoid arrest. The scammer demands the victim make an immediate payment via Money Gram or Western Union.
In some cases, consumers have fallen for the IRS scam because they are undergoing an IRS audit and when the call is received, consumers are not able to recognize the difference between the scammer and the IRS.
If you receive a call from someone who claims to be with the IRS, here are five things the scammers often do but the IRS will not do:
The IRS will never:
- Call to demand immediate payment or 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.
If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money, here’s what you should do:
- If you know you owe taxes or think you might owe, call the IRS at 1.800.829.1040. The IRS workers can help you with a payment issue.
- If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to believe that you do, report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 1.800.366.4484 or at www.tigta.gov.
If you believe you have been the victim of a phone scam or any other type of consumer fraud, please file a consumer complaint at https://www.azag.gov/complaints/consumer or contact the Consumer Information and Complaints Unit in Phoenix at (602) 542-5763; in Tucson at (520) 628-6504 and outside the Phoenix metropolitan area at (800) 352-8431.
For more information, members of the media may contact Mia Garcia, Spokesperson and Director of Media Relations at (602) 339-5895 or Mia.Garcia@azag.gov.