Watch out for phony IRS calls

Tax-return season is well under way in the Natural State and across the country, but with that comes scam artists looking to prey on consumers. Recently, a number of Arkansans have contacted the Attorney General’s Office to report telephone calls from purported Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agents demanding the consumer share private information in order to receive a refund or to pay taxes immediately to avoid being arrested.

These con artists who have likely altered the caller ID to make it appear that the IRS is calling are posing as IRS agents in an attempt to steal a person’s identity or take their money. Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued today’s consumer alert to remind Arkansans to be cautious and to offer tips to help consumers recognize a scam. “These scam artists can sound authentic and be very convincing, as well as demanding,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “But even the most sophisticated con artists will raise red flags alerting consumers to scams. Consumers should always remember that no government entity, including the IRS, will ask for your personal financial information through an unsolicited phone call or e-mail.”

The IRS recently reminded consumers how they can easily recognize scammers who call. Consumers should know the IRS will not do the following: – Call to demand immediate payment or call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.

Demand that 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 contact local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said of these scams: “We have formal processes in place for people with tax issues. The IRS respects taxpayer rights, and these angry, shake-down calls are not how we do business.”

The Attorney General’s office again reminds consumers that the IRS does not use unsolicited e-mail, text messages or any social media to discuss a personal tax issue. Arkansans who receive a call from someone claiming to be from the IRS or asking for money are encouraged to call the IRS at (800) 829-1040 or the Arkansas Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division hotline at (800) 482-8982.

For more information on this IRS scam and others, visit: www.IRS.gov or www.ArkansasAG.gov.

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