GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Internal Revenue Service is telling West Michigan residents not to be taken in by scammers saying they could be arrested if they don’t pay up for back taxes immediately.
Many 24 Hour News 8 viewers have reported getting calls from the crooks and West Michigan law enforcement agencies have put out warnings. The scam is widespread, victimizing people of every type and from every state. Michigan ranks No. 8 for the number of victims, with residents having been swindled out of some $875,000 to date.
The IRS says the phone calls are believable because the scammers seem to know so much about potential victims.
“These criminals are extremely sophisticated. They’ve tapped into several different databases,” IRS spokesman Luis Garcia told 24 Hour News 8 on Thursday. “They have a pretty sophisticated profile on you. They have your middle name, SSN (Social Security number), work, who lives in your house — a lot of info people think only the IRS have that, they have.”
The IRS occasionally calls people, but it’s rare.
“When we do (call), those people are usually expecting our call because they have a file drawer full of letters from the IRS that they haven’t responded to,” Garcia said.
And if the agency does call, it won’t threaten you, demand you pay money immediately or force you to pay in a certain way.
The IRS is working to find the scammers.
“IRS Criminal Investigations prides ourselves on being considered the world’s foremost financial investigators,” said Jeff Himburg, a special agent with the IRS Criminal Investigation Division.
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, you should:
- Hang up immediately and do not give out any information.
- Report the call to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration 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.