8 On Your Side Warning: Polk County man falls victim to ‘IRS Scam’

LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) – A Polk County man hopes his story will prevent others from being duped into handing over their hard-earned money.

The man was so embarrassed and ashamed he didn’t want his identify known.

He fell victim to increasingly common ‘IRS SCAM’. Phone scammers pretend to be IRS officials to get you to hand over your money. The called claimed he owed around $7,000 in back taxes. They knew his name, address and other information. They also threatened to send a Sheriff if he hung up.

“They said I couldn’t hang up the phone otherwise there would be a warrant for my arrest,” the man said. “I told them I had $11.00 in the bank, and $7.00 cash in my pocket. I had no money. I said I had a credit card. They’re like what’s the limit on it?”

The scammers conned him into buying $600 worth of iTunes gift cards and giving them redemption code to use them.

He actually bought $1,200 worth, but luckily realized halfway through something was wrong. When the bogus agent couldn’t answer his questions he finally hung up the phone.

The victim realizes he won’t get his money back, but had some parting words for the scammer. “I called him back and said what kind of sadistic person are you to take money from people on Christmas? Why would you do this? He actually started cussing me out,” he said.

iTunes gift cards have become a common tool for online scammers to suck their victims dry.

Here are five things the scammers often do but the IRS will not do. Any one of these five things is a tell-tale sign of a scam. The IRS will never:

  1. Call to demand immediate payment, nor will we call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill..
  2. Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
  3. Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
  4. Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
  5. 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.
  • You can file a complaint using the FTC Complaint Assistant; choose “Other” and then “Impostor Scams.” If the complaint involves someone impersonating the IRS, include the words “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.  [See update at top of page.]

Remember, too, the IRS does not use unsolicited email, text messages or any social media to discuss your personal tax issue. For more information on reporting tax scams, go to http://www.irs.gov and type “scam” in the search box.

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