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"IRS" calls are a phishing scam


Officials have encountered numerous reports in the region recently of con artists calling people to demand immediate payment and even threaten jail time with a supposed warrant for the arrest of the person getting the call.

The callers are often good at what they do and are very convincing, as one local woman recently found out after forking over $1,500.

Such a call recently came to the home of Mike Ianetta, he said, and his wife was about to get out the credit card for payment. They wanted $4,000 immediately. Ianetta said the caller had the wrong county and said an arrest warrant had been issued in Okanogan County. Ianettas live in Lincoln County.

If you get such a call, know that it’s a scam. Don’t fall for it.

“The IRS always initiates contact through the U.S. Postal Service,” said spokesman David A. Tucker. “Don’t provide anything of a personal nature over the phone, especially if you don’t know the caller.”

Here are tips the IRS offers for dealing with such attempts.

Beware of scammers making unsolicited calls claiming to be IRS officials. They demand that the victim pay a bogus tax bill. They con the victim into sending cash, usually through a prepaid debit card or wire transfer. They may also leave “urgent” callback requests through phone “robo-calls,” or via a phishing email.

Scammers often alter caller ID numbers to make it look like the IRS or another agency is calling. The callers use IRS titles and fake badge numbers to appear legitimate. They may use the victim’s name, address and other personal information to make the call sound official.

The IRS will never:

• Call to demand immediate payment over the phone, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.

• Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.

• Demand that 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 for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.

• Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

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