May 09, 2003

IRS warns of telephone scam

By Karen Jowers
Times staff writer

The IRS is warning of a telephone scam that targets military families.
The scenario can vary, but in general, a caller posing as an IRS employee tells a family member he or she is entitled to a $4,000 refund because a relative is in the military, then requests a credit card number to cover $42 for postage.

The scam artist then gives an IRS toll-free number as a callback number to make the call seem legitimate. Using the credit card number, the scam artist then makes numerous purchases and runs up the credit card bill.

“These types of shameless schemes hold out the allure of easy money,” IRS Commissioner Mark Everson said in a prepared statement May 8. ‘The IRS warns taxpayers to be on the lookout for these schemes. We urge taxpayers to remember that the IRS does not charge for refunds or solicit credit card information.”

Federal Trade Commission officials advise consumers not to give out a credit card number on the phone when the consumer has not initiated the phone call.

IRS said another ongoing scheme that involves the general public is based on e-mail messages that appear to be from the IRS. The messages contain links to a non-IRS Internet page that asks for personal and financial information, which can be used to steal a victim’s identity and get access to sensitive financial data or accounts, IRS officials said.

This information could be used to drain bank accounts; run up charges on credit cards; apply for loans, credit cards, services or benefits in the victim’s name or to file fraudulent tax returns, officials said.

The IRS never requests sensitive personal or financial data by e-mail.