CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has alerted consumers to a recent spike in Internal Revenue Service scam calls, perhaps related to the recent, Oct. 16, filing deadline for those who sought an extension in April.
The scam typically starts with a phone call indicating the IRS will arrest the consumer if he or she refuses to follow instructions. Similar calls claim to represent the U.S. Treasury Department, legal affairs and other groups.
The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division received at least 60 calls about the IRS scam since late last week. One consumer in Kanawha County reportedly lost $1,000 when she purchased gift cards to comply with the caller’s demands.
“These calls can be very intimidating,” Morrisey said. “Consumers must stay calm, remain on guard and verify the caller’s legitimacy before taking action.”
Targeted consumers typically are told they owe immediate payment. Threats of imminent arrest often follow when the consumer refuses to cooperate or questions the caller’s legitimacy.
The IRS impostor will, at times, use common names. They also may claim to know the last four digits of the consumer’s Social Security number and pose as their own supervisor anytime the consumer asks for management.
Other characteristics to watch for include, but are not limited, to the following:
* Use out-of-state telephone numbers
* Use of automated calling machines
* Use of fake government badge numbers and phony emails
* Follow-up calls claiming to represent a different agency
* Caller ID information to support their bogus representation
The AG's office strongly urges all consumers to ignore such calls, do not return voicemails and report any victimization to the U.S. Inspector General’s Office on Tax Administration via http://1.usa.gov/1ClYZbP or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Questions can be directed to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 800-368-8808 statewide or 304-267-0239 in Martinsburg. To file a report online, go towww.wvago.gov.