Oakland, CA December 5, 2013 -- The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning consumers about a phone scam that is demanding money and threatening jail time.
The BBB began receiving phone calls from local consumers this week who have been contacted by the "IRS" saying they owe money and it must be paid promptly. Consumers are instructed to buy a preloaded debit card or wire transfer funds. If the victim refuses to cooperate they are threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of business or drivers license. The caller often times becomes very demanding, hostile and insulting.
The BBB wants consumers to know that the IRS will never ask you for credit card numbers or the phone or request a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer. The IRS will most likely contact taxpayers via mail in regards to tax issues.
"These callers are trying to scare consumers into paying them money they don't owe," states Gene O'Neil, President & CEO of BBB serving the San Francisco Bay Area and Northern Coastal California. "Consumers should not be threatened into making payments they don't owe. The scammers use these strong arm tactics because they know many people will pay the money to avoid being arrested".
Some other characteristics of this scam:
- Scammers use fake names and IRS badge numbers
- Scammer may have the last 4 digits of your Social Security number.
- Scammers can spoof IRS phone numbers making appear the call is really from the IRS
- Victims can hear background noises of other calls being conducted to mimic a call site.
- After threatening jail time or deportation, scammers hang up and soon call back pretending to be from the local police, to help support their claim.
The BBB recommends the following if you receive a similar type call:
- If you know you owe taxes or think you might owe taxes, call he IRS at 1.800.829.1040.
- If you know you don't owe taxes, call and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1.800.366.4484.
- If you've been targeted by this scam you should also contact the Federal Trade Commission and use their Complaint Assistant at FTC.gov.
- If you are not sure if the call is legitimate or not, contact the Better Business Bureau at 1-866-411-2221 or goldengate.bbb.org.
For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping consumers find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2012, consumers turned to BBB 124 million times for Business Reviews on more than 4.5 million companies and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. The BBB is an unbiased nonprofit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Businesses that earn BBB Accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization’s high standards of ethical business behavior. The BBB provides objective advice, free BBB Reliability ReportsTM on businesses and BBB Wise Giving ReportsTM on charities, and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. To further promote trust, your BBB also offers dispute resolution services for consumers and businesses. The first BBB was founded in 1912. Today, 113 BBBs serve communities across the U.S. and Canada. Please visit www.goldengate.bbb.org for more information.