SALEM, Ore. (KOIN 6) — It’s tax season, and officials with Oregon’s Department of Justice are warning: Don’t be fooled by a common phone scam.
Denise Arnold works in the insurance business from her Portland home. She said her family recently got two phone calls from someone claiming to work for the Internal Revenue Service.
“They just left a message that you owe the IRS money, we’re going to seize your bank accounts and foreclose on your house,” Arnold said. “Enough to scare the bejesus out of you.”
Luckily, she didn’t fall for the IRS imposter scam, which was the DOJ’s top consumer complaint in 2014.
“When we published the 2013 list, the IRS imposter scam wasn’t even on it,” Ellen Klem, the DOJ’s Director of Consumer Outreach and Education, told KOIN 6 News.
The agency said victims of the scam in Oregon have lost more than $77,000.
“If you’ve fallen victim, even just sending $5 or $10, can get you on what we call a sucker list,” Klem explained.
Klem said if you’ve been tricked once, they’ll most likely target you again. She said scammers recognize a victim’s vulnerability and will sell your personal information to other crooks who are trying new tactics.
“That might be something like claiming they’re calling from the Portland Police or the Multnomah County Sheriff and they want to help you,” Klem said.
The callers also get more aggressive, but Klem said what they’re saying is a lie.
If you have a tax problem, the IRS will only contact you by mail. It won’t ask you to wire money, pay with a prepaid debit card or share your credit card information over the phone.
If you get a call, don’t give out any financial or personal information. Then, write down details of the call, like the number and caller’s name. Next, hang up and contact the IRS directly.
“Don’t fall for it,” Arnold said. “Either hang up or if they leave a message, don’t call them back.”
To further highlight the problem, Klem recently testified to the United States Senate Committee on Finance.
To file a complaint with the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration click here, or call 800.366.4484. You can reach out to the Federal Trade Commission by clicking here, or by calling 877.FTC.HELP. You can call the IRS directly at 800.829.1040.