Since last August, when fraudsters began a phone scam targeted at Americans nationwide, thousands of individuals have been ripped off according to the US Internal Revenue Service’s watchdog, the TIGTA.
In fact, 20,000 complaints already been received by the Treasury Inspector Gen. for Tax Administration (TIGTA), including many people who recently immigrated to the United States. According to their records, over $1 million has already been stolen by scammers and thousands of victims have fallen for the fraud.
According to J. Russell George, the head of the TIGTA, “this is the largest scam of its kind that we have ever seen.”
Tax and identity theft is a nationwide problem and growing quickly
The fact is, the IRS isn’t the only government entity with a problem. Many states across the country are seeing the same fraudulent type of activity with state income tax, according to CNBC contributor Herb Weisbaum.
He explains that, by manipulating the caller ID on a victim’s phone, the following will display the number of the local IRS office. Many times the scammers have also had part of the victims Social Security numbers and have used that to convince them that they were calling from a true government entity.
In some cases, victims have hung up the phone and then been called back by the same fraudsters using another number that displayed on their phone’s caller ID as a local police phone number. Some of the victims, recent immigrants to the United States, were threatened with deportation by these identity theft criminals.
Following a script, fraudsters across the United States have perpetrated this scam, according to a senior official from the TIGTA who spoke on a conference call with reporters from around the country.
Unfortunately, he explained, the technology that these thieves are using to manipulate caller ID displays is easily available to the public at large.
Companies that provide voice-over-the-Internet call services as well as many major phone companies have now been warned about the scam, but unfortunately it continues to grow.
For example, in Cupertino, California, licensed tax preparer Claudia Hill said that recently 4 of her clients were targeted by the scammers in only a single week. She also said that, previous to this year, she’s never had a client complain about any sort of tax phone scams even though she prepares approximately 1000 tax returns a year.
In other words, dear readers, be vigilant for these tax scammers and make sure that, if you’re contacted, you know exactly where you stand as far as your taxes are concerned as well as your immigration status if you happen to be a recent immigrant to the United States.