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星期五, 4月 01, 2016

DON’T BE FOOLED: AG HEALEY ALERTS CONSUMERS ABOUT IRS SCAM, OFFERS TIPS TO AVOID IDENTITY THEFT AS TAX DEADLINE APPROACHES

DON’T BE FOOLED: AG HEALEY ALERTS CONSUMERS ABOUT IRS SCAM, OFFERS TIPS TO AVOID IDENTITY THEFT AS TAX DEADLINE APPROACHESImposters Aggressively Target and Threaten Taxpayers by Phone
BOSTON – Today may be April Fool’s Day, but tax scams are no joke, Attorney General Maura Healey said today as she offered tips for consumers to prevent identity theft. 
“Tax scams are no laughing matter,” AG Healey said. “These thieves use aggressive tactics to pressure well-meaning taxpayers into giving them money and personal or financial information. These crimes are preventable and with the right information, people can help limit their chances of being victimized by these scams.”
The IRS impersonation scam is typically perpetrated over the phone by individuals posing as employees of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Using high pressure tactics, the caller informs the intended victim that they will be arrested, or a tax lien will be placed on their home because they did not pay or did not correctly file state or federal income taxes. Victims are told they must settle the debt over the phone by providing their debit or credit card numbers or immediately wiring funds, to avoid being arrested. If the victim refuses to cooperate, the caller often becomes hostile and will threaten the victim. The caller may also use personally identifying information about the victim to make the scheme sound authentic.
Consumers who receive this phone call are encouraged to report it directly to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at (800) 366-4484. Consumers may also file a complaint online through their website here
The AG’s Office has also received multiple reports of tax-related identity theft, which occurs when someone files a fake tax return using your personal information to get a tax refund from the IRS. It may also occur when someone uses your Social Security number to get a job or claims your child as a dependent on a tax return.

Consumers may not be aware that their identity has been compromised until after they file their tax return, or if they receive a letter from the IRS stating that more than one tax return was filed in their name, or if IRS records show wages from an unknown employer. 

Tax-related identity theft has been the most common form of identity theft reported to theFederal Trade Commission (FTC) for the past five years. If you have reason to believe your personal information may have been compromised, consider filing a police report and contacting the credit reporting agencies to place a fraud alert or security freeze on your credit file. Consumers may alsofile a complaint with the FTC.

Taxpayers should be advised that the IRS or the Department of Revenue generally contacts consumers by mail, not by phone, and will never ask for credit card numbers over the phone or request a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer.

The AG’s Office offers consumers the following information and resources to help protect them from potential scams and identity theft:
  • Call the IRS at (800) 829-1040. The IRS employees at that line can help you with a payment issue – if there really is such an issue.
  • If you’ve been targeted by this scam, you should also contact the Federal Trade Commission and use their FTC Complaint Assistant.
  • Use a secure internet connection if you file electronically. Avoid the use of public computers whenever possible.
  • Do not give out your Social Security Number (SSN) or Medicare number unless necessary. Never give this information out over the phone following an unsolicited phone call, no matter who the person calling claims to be.
  • If you believe that your SSN has been compromised, contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at (800) 908-4490.
  • Check your credit report for free at least once a year, at each of the three major reporting agencies, by visiting annualcreditreport.com to make sure no other accounts have been opened in your name.
  • Questions pertaining to taxes may be referred to the IRS at (800) 829-1040 or the IRS website.
The Attorney General’s Consumer Advocacy & Response Division fields thousands of inquiries pertaining to scams and can direct consumers to the appropriate agency to file a complaint. Consumer information specific to telephone scams are available on the FTC’s website, www.ftc.gov. Consumers may also call AG Healey’s Consumer Hotline at (617) 727-8400 or visit the Attorney General’s website for additional information.