The Treasury Inspector General has been alerting individuals about identity thieves and scammers, issuing public service announcements to educate taxpayers about the continuing threat of IRS impersonation scams.
According to spokesmen for the Treasury Inspector for Administration (TIGTA), there is a network of individuals who make telephone calls to the public posing as IRS employees, with the intention of persuading unsuspecting taxpayers to reveal their personal identification information so they could steal their money.
Such impersonators may claim to be IRS employees over the phone or may use IRS logos, seals, or symbols to create official-looking letters and emails and thereby mislead people. If you get a suspicious phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, just hang up.
Scammers frequently inform their victims that they owe money to the IRS and need to pay their tax debts via a preloaded debit card, wire transfer, or Apple iTunes, Walmart, or Target gift card. Taxpayers are sometimes tricked into providing their personal information, which is then used by the impersonator to commit identity theft.
Between October 2013 and March 2022, the TIGTA received more than 2.5 million calls from taxpayers alleging that they had consistently received calls from individuals claiming to be IRS employees. The scammers told victims that they owed additional taxes and that if they did not immediately pay the alleged debts, they would be arrested or face other adverse consequences.
The data shows that this has become a threat to taxpayers which, according to the TIGTA, as of March 31, 2022, 16,038 victims had been scammed out of more than $85 million, collectively, by phishing scams.
The TIGTA is fighting back and has launched 893 investigations related to phishing scams which, as of March 2022, have led to 300 people being charged in federal court. Of those, 197 people have been convicted and collectively sentenced to more than 910 years in prison and ordered to pay more than $224 million in restitution.
However, due to their complexity, these scams are often not quickly resolved and have claimed victims in every state. The top five states in terms of the number of victims who have suffered financial loss are California, New York, Texas, Florida and New Jersey.
Contributors can report phishing scam attempts to the TIGTA on the website: https://tips.tigta.gov/