LEE COUNTY, Fla. -- Hundreds of calls from area residents have been flooding the Lee County Sheriff's Office fraud hotline this week, reporting fraudulent calls pretending to be the IRS.
The scam phone calls often warn whomever answers that fines are owed to the IRS and that a lawsuit will be filed if they are not immediately paid.
The Sheriff's office says nearly 400 calls have to into their Fraud Line (258-3292) about the scam within the last 36 hours.
They would like to remind residents and seasonal guests that the IRS will never:
• Call to demand immediate payment or call about taxes owed without first contacting you by mail.
• Demand you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
• Require you to use a specific payment method, such as a prepaid debit card of wire transfer.
• Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
This scam has been around for years, but likely has begun this latest assault to coincide with the opening of tax season.
To report an IRS impersonation scam click here, you will be redirected to the Treasury office where you can submit a report online.
Below you can find more information from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.
The IRS generally first contacts people by mail – not by phone – about unpaid taxes and the IRS will not ask for payment using a prepaid debit card, a money order or wire a transfer. The IRS also will not ask for a credit card number over the phone. The callers who commit this fraud often:
- Utilize an automated robocall machine.
- Use common names and fake IRS badge numbers.
- May know the last four digits of the victim’s Social Security Number.
- Make caller ID information appear as if the IRS is calling.
- Aggressively demand immediate payment to avoid being criminally charged or arrested.
- Claim that hanging up the telephone will cause the immediate issuance of an arrest warrant for unpaid taxes.
- Send bogus IRS e-mails to support their scam.
- Call a second or third time claiming to be the police or department of motor vehicles, and the caller ID again supports their claim.
If you get a call from someone claiming to be with the IRS asking for a payment, here’s what to do:
- If you owe Federal taxes, or think you might owe taxes, hang up and call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS workers can help you with your payment questions.
- If you do not owe taxes, fill out the “IRS Impersonation scam” form on TIGTA’s website, www.tigta.gov, or call TIGTA at 800-366-4484.
- You can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at www.FTC.gov. Add “IRS Telephone Scam" to the comments in your complaint.
TIGTA encourages taxpayers to be alert to phone and e-mail scams that use the IRS name. The IRS will never request personal or financial information by e-mail, text, or any social media. You should forward scam e-mails to firstname.lastname@example.org. Do not open any attachments or click on any links in those e-mails.