INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said nearly 1,300 complaints were filed with his office this year about the IRS imposter scam, making it the most common telephone privacy complaint of 2015. Phone scams offering credit services and tech support services are the second and third most common complaints this year.
In the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) imposter scam, callers claim to be with the IRS and demand immediate payment of past-due taxes. Scammers might threaten arrest and jail time if the payment is not received immediately, and usually request that the money be paid back though the purchase of pre-paid cards.
The IRS imposter scam is among several imposter scams that have emerged this year in which callers pretend to be a legitimate entity and give a false impression of authority to scam Hoosiers out of their hard earned money, Zoeller said. The way they are able to do this, he said, is by Caller ID spoofing where the caller falsifies the telephone number and/or name relayed as the Caller ID information to mimic the identity of someone else.
Members of the public who are targeted by the IRS imposter scam should hang up on the caller immediately and file a complaint with the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at TIGTA.gov or with the Attorney General’s Office at www.IndianaConsumer.com.
More than 3,000 Hoosiers complained to the Attorney General’s Office about unwanted calls this year.
Zoeller said the best way for people to know whether a call they are receiving is a scam is by registering their number on the Do Not Call list. Legitimate companies will not call numbers on the Do Not Call list, so if someone is on the list and is receiving unsolicited contact, it is likely a scam.
The next quarterly deadline to register cellular and landline residential phone numbers on the Do Not Call list is midnight EST on Tuesday, Nov. 17. The updated list will take effect Jan. 1, 2016.
“With Caller ID spoofing and other deceptive tactics, it is easy for fraudsters to convince people they are someone legitimate, even a government agency,” Zoeller said. “The best protection against phone scams is simply not do any type of business or give out personal information over the phone unless you initiate the call yourself.”
To sign up or to confirm a number is on the Do Not Call list, visit www.IndianaConsumer.com or call 1.888.834.9969. Consumers do not need to re-register unless their address has changed. To achieve compliance with Indiana law, telemarketing companies may obtain a copy of the list from the Attorney General’s Office.
Avoid getting scammed over the phone by following these tips:
- Don’t let a telephone solicitor pressure you to make an immediate decision.
- Ask for a caller’s contact information and tell them you will call them back. Verify that the number they give you is tied to a legitimate company or agency by doing your own research.
- Know that most government entities, including the IRS, will not initiate contact over the phone. Additionally, they will never ask you for credit card, debit card or prepaid card information over the phone.
- Do not wire any money or make payments over the phone unless you have independently verified the caller.
- Check unfamiliar companies with the AG’s Office or the Better Business Bureau before agreeing to a purchase.
- Hang up on recorded message calls or “robocalls.” Don’t press any numbers.
Additionally, Zoeller urged Hoosiers to take advantage of available call-blocking options to help stop scam calls. The Attorney General’s Office created a non-exhaustive, call-blocking reference sheet to inform the public about available options and encourage development of new options. This reference sheet outlines different call-blocking applications and information about each option, including who is able to use it, the cost, benefits, weaknesses and how to get it.