It’s a phone scam that has been around for years but consumer experts said thieves are upping their game when it comes to posing as the IRS. Police departments across Connecticut are sounding the warning in an effort to keep more people from falling for it.
It is called the IRS imposter scam and it involves getting a call from someone claiming you owe back taxes. It started with emails a few years ago, but now scammers are calling over and over again and their messages are threatening.
The scammers claim you could be arrested if you do not pay up immediately. Some threaten to take your license or deport you.
“They leave messages multiple times a day so they are definitely aggressive,” James Jacobs of Hartford said.
Consumer experts said calls have peaked, not just in Connecticut, but across the country.
“It’s reached the point now where it has all the hallmarks of an epidemic,” Howard Schwartz of the Connecticut Better Business Bureau said. “The reason this criminal activity is growing and growing is for one reason and that is because it works. Fear works on people.”
It is prompting local police departments like East Hampton to put out a warning to the public about the scam they know is growing.
“Hopefully if they warn enough people, they’ll stop what they’re doing because they won’t be able to get through to anybody,” Nicole Viets of Hartford said.
The Connecticut Better Business Bureau said the best thing you can do is ignore the call and if it continues, contact the IRS and the FTC to report the scam.
“The only way we’re really going to stop this is when people understand that nobody will call them and threaten them and want payment by untraceable method,” Schwartz said.
The IRS said if you do owe back taxes, you will receive a letter in the mail first. Government officials do not ask for PIN numbers, passwords or other personal financial information over the phone.