IRS scam resurging in West Michigan

This March 22, 2013 file photo shows the exterior of the Internal Revenue Service building in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WOOD) —  Law enforcement agencies in Allegan, Kent, Kalamazoo and Van Buren counties are warning residents about an IRS scam that’s spreading fast through West Michigan.

The Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Department said Monday dispatchers received an extraordinary amount of calls about an IRS scam, in which the suspect poses as an IRS agent, demands the caller pay back taxes they don’t actually owe and threatens to arrest, deport or revoke the victim’s license if they do not pay.

Dispatchers said the phone calls are originating from another country.

The scheme recently topped the 2016 “Dirty Dozen” list of tax scams, compiled by the IRS.

“Taxpayers across the nation face a deluge of these aggressive phone scams. Don’t be fooled by callers pretending to be from the IRS in an attempt to steal your money,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen in a news release. “We continue to say if you are surprised to be hearing from us, then you’re not hearing from us.”

Five things the IRS will never do:

  • Call to demand immediate payment, nor will the agency 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 bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.

If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money, but you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to think that you do: Hang up immediately and do not give out any information. Report the call to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) by using their “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” web page or calling 800.366.4484. Also report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on FTC.gov and add “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.

If you know you owe, or think you may owe taxes, call the IRS at 800.829.1040 for help.

In January, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) announced they have received reports from around 896,000 contacts since October 2013 and have become aware of over 5,000 victims who have collectively paid over $26.5 million as a result of the scam.

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Online: 
 IRS tips on spotting suspicious calls

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