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Senator Collins Reminds Seniors of Persistent IRS Scam during Tax Filing Season

Scam remains aggressive, has several variations

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Senator Susan Collins, who chairs the Senate Aging Committee, is warning of a recurring IRS imposter phone scam. Through this scam, of which there are multiple variations, con artists demand immediate payment of “back taxes” and threaten retaliation, such as home foreclosure and even arrest if payment of “back taxes” is not made. 

      These scam calls most often involve a disguised, or “spoofed” caller ID to make the victim believe that the call is coming from the “202” area code, or Washington, D.C., where the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service are headquartered.  In a newer variation of this scam, calls appear to be coming from either “509,” “360,” and “206” area codes, which are Washington State area codes.
      “Putting a stop to these aggressive and ruthless scams targeting our nation’s seniors, including the IRS phone scam, is among my highest priorities as Chairman of the Senate Aging Committee,” said Senator Collins.  “Hundreds of seniors in Maine and across the country have contacted the Aging Committee’s Fraud Hotline to report that they have received these calls.”
      Last April, Senator Collins chaired a hearing that examined IRS impersonation scams and efforts by law enforcement to put a stop to them and find and prosecute all those involved.
      Senator Collins advises seniors to simply hang up the phone if they receive a call from someone claiming to be from the IRS.  In addition, complaints can be made to the FTC (1-877-382-4357), TIGTA, or to the Senate Aging Committee’s Fraud Hotline (1-855-303-9470).

      The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) has called this scam the largest, most pervasive impersonation scam in the history of the IRS.  Recently, TIGTA issued a public service announcement warning the public about these scams. You can view TIGTA’s announcement here.
      With such scams reaching epidemic proportions across the country, the IRS has released several tips to help taxpayers identify suspicious calls that may be part of a scam:

  • The IRS will never call a taxpayer to demand immediate payment, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed a bill to the taxpayer.
  • The IRS will never demand that a taxpayer pay taxes without giving him or her the opportunity to question or appeal the amount claimed to be owed.
  • The IRS will never ask for a credit or debit card number over the phone.
  • The IRS will not threaten to send local police or other law enforcement to have a taxpayer arrested.
  • The IRS will never require a taxpayer to use a specific payment method for taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.