The Better Business Bureau serving Central and Eastern Kentucky has received dozens of reports of scam phone calls from people alleging to be officers with the Internal Revenue Service.
A majority of the calls have hit the Georgetown-Scott County area, but not exclusively. The calls are automated messages left on voice mails or answering machines. The caller gives an official sounding title ("Officer" Smith) with the IRS and says that the call is in regard to a "serious legal matter" and that action will be taken unless the consumer returns the call.
The caller leaves a phone number with a 202 area code, which is the area code for Washington, D.C., in an effort to add credibility to the scam.
"These callers can sound convincing when they call. They may know a lot about you, and they alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling," said Jack Frank, BBB president and CEO. "They use fake names and bogus IRS identification badge numbers. If you don't answer, they often leave an urgent callback request. BBB urges consumers to ignore these calls."
Victims around the country fell for claims that they owed back taxes or penalties for late payments, and they were tricked into buying prepaid debit cards (such as Green Dot Moneypak cards) to pay the "fine" to avoid arrest. The money is unrecoverable.
IRS officials warn on their website that they don't do business in that manner. The IRS urges anyone with questions about taxes they might owe to call 1-800-829-1040. The IRS also reminds taxpayers that it does not use unsolicited email, text messages or any social media to discuss personal tax issues.
Consumers may report scams to the BBB at (859) 259-1008 or 1-800-866-6668 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The IRS offers these five signs of a scam using its name. The IRS will never:
■ Call about taxes you owe without first mailing you an official notice.
■ Demand 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 to arrest you for not paying.