HARRISBURG — As tax season gets underway, Attorney General Josh Shapiro is warning consumers about fraudulent calls and scams from criminals impersonating IRS agents – and telling recipients they need to send money right away or risk arrest by the IRS.
“Scam artists are using new technology and high-pressure tactics to get people to give out personal information. One popular tactic, especially during tax season, is scam artists impersonating the IRS and trying to scare you into paying them thousands of dollars,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “My Office is here to protect you, help you avoid being scammed, and go after these scammers anywhere we find them.”
As a taxpayer, it is essential that consumers are aware of this scam and the ways to prevent from becoming a victim of identity theft. If you keep your information secure on your computer, you are less likely to receive a call from a scam artist impersonating an IRS agent.
The Office of Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection received 536 IRS scam complaints in 2018, 15 complaints already in 2019. Here are some other valuable tips to be aware of regarding this scam:
- Use security software that updates automatically. Essential tools for keeping a secure computer include a firewall, virus and malware protection, and file encryption for sensitive data.
- Treat personal information like cash; don’t leave it lying around.
- Give personal information only over encrypted and trusted websites.
- Use strong passwords and protect them.
Attorney General Shapiro also encouraged consumers to be wary of pursuing tax refund anticipation checks. These offers may seem like quick, easy money, but the companies offering them charge high interest rates and exorbitant fees off the full refund the taxpayer earned.
Consumers who feel that they have been victimized by this scam may file a complaint with the Office of Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection by visiting the website, www.attorneygeneral.gov or by calling the office at 1-800-441-2555.
Since scam calls are often initiated by robocalls, the Attorney General has been taking action against these unwanted calls. Last year, Attorney General Shapiro lead a coalition of 34 Attorneys General to ask the FCC to let phone companies do more to block illegal robocall. In Fall 2017, AG Shapiro testified before a U.S. Senate subcommittee on the rising threat to consumers – particularly senior citizens – from spoofed robocalls. Attorney General Shapiro and U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) sent a letter to the FCC, urging it to pass a rule allowing telephone companies to block robocalls and spoofed calls. Earlier, Attorney General Shapiro and 28 other attorneys general filed comments with the FCC urging similar action. In November, the FCC finalized new rules allowing phone companies to block these calls.