JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA –
The nation, along with the Lowcountry, is experiencing a surge in telephone scams where scammers target individuals, claim to be affiliated with the IRS and demand immediate payment of a tax debt over the phone. The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) announced in January they had received reports of roughly 896,000 contacts since October 2013 and had become aware of over 5,000 victims who collectively paid over $26.5 million as a result of the scam. As organizations rely more and more on technology and paperless correspondence, these wrongdoers will continue to ramp up their efforts to deprive unsuspecting personnel of their hard earned dollars.
The General Scheme - Scammers use fake names, provide fake IRS badge numbers and alter caller ID numbers to make it look like the IRS is calling. They may also use the victim's name, address and other personal information to make the call sound official. When an unsuspecting victim answers their call, the scammers demand immediate payment over the phone. If their demand is met with resistance, the wrongdoer will threaten deportation, license revocation or arrest if their demands are not met.
Protect Yourself - There are several telltale signs to show a scammer is on the line rather than the IRS. The IRS will never call to demand immediate payment, never call about taxes owed without first mailing a bill, never ask for payment without giving taxpayers an opportunity to appeal, never ask for a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, never ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone and never threaten to bring in local police or other law enforcement agencies to make an arrest for not paying. The IRS does not use email, text messages or any social media to discuss a personal tax issue involving bills or refunds.
Reporting and Self Help Options - You may report instances of IRS-related phishing attempts and fraud to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1-800-366-4484. Victims can also call the Federal Trade Commission and use its FTC Complaint Assistant at FTC.gov. If the complaint involves someone impersonating the IRS, include the words "IRS Telephone Scam" in the notes. If a taxpayer owes back taxes, call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040. The IRS workers can help with payment issues. For more information, go to IRS.gov and type "scam" in the search box or visit the base legal office during our legal assistance hours.
This article is not intended to replace seeking legal advice from an attorney. Legal assistance is provided at the Air Base on a walk-in basis on Tuesdays from 1200-1500. Legal Assistance is available at the Naval Weapons Station on a walk-in basis Mondays from 0800-1100 and on Fridays by appointment from 0800-1100. Please call 843-963-5502 for all appointments.