Consumer Alert: Phone Scammers Posing as IRS Officials Attempt to Con Illinois Residents Into Sending Money

Illinois residents are advised to be on alert for a renewed phone scam in which callers pose as Internal Revenue Service (IRS) officials in an attempt to scare people into sending money to pay for allegedly unpaid taxes. Consumers report being contacted by scammers pretending to be IRS officials who leave threatening messages that include a number for consumers to call in order to avoid lawsuits or prosecution.

Scammers also “spoof” phone numbers, causing caller ID devices to display what appears to be a legitimate call from the IRS, with identifiers such as “IRS” or the (202) area code for Washington, D.C. The scam artists claim they are representatives of the federal government collecting on unpaid taxes and leave threatening messages or instruct their targets to make a payment to them through a prepaid debit card. 

It is critical to know that the IRS does not call and tell people they are under investigation or that they owe money. If you receive a call like this, even if your caller ID shows what appears to be a legitimate name or number, hang up immediately.

Consumers can report the call by contacting the IRS or the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) website (www.irs.gov/uac/Taxpayer-Guide-to-Identity-Theft) or by calling 1-800-366-4484. Illinois residents should also report the scam to the Illinois Attorney General's Consumer Fraud Bureau at 1-800-386-5438 (Chicago), 1-800-243-0618 (Springfield), 1-800-243-0607 (Carbondale) or 1-866-310-8398 (Spanish), or by visiting the website, Click Here. The Attorney General also provides a Senior Citizens Consumer Fraud Hotline: 1-800-243-5377.

Additional tips for consumers to avoid becoming the victim of tax-related identity theft:
  • The IRS does NOT initiate contact with taxpayers to request personal or financial information through any form of electronic communication, including email, text messages and social media channels; 
  • Do not open or reply to any emails claiming to be from the IRS that contain a request for personal information; 
  • Request a call back number and employee badge number from anyone claiming to be an IRS agent so that you may independently confirm the phone number and agent; 
  • Report any suspicious IRS electronic correspondence to phishing@irs.gov
  • Report any IRS telephone impersonation scams or suspicious IRS paper mail or fax correspondence to the TIGTA Hotline at 1-800-366-4484; and 
  • Contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 1 (800) 908-4490 or visit the IRS’ website to report tax-related identity theft: www.irs.gov/uac/Taxpayer-Guide-to-Identity-Theft.
Consumers can also contact the Illinois Identity Theft Hotline at 1 (866) 999-5630 for tax-related identity theft assistance. The hotline is staffed with identity theft experts who can assist with all forms of identity theft by helping victims report the crime to local law enforcement and financial institutions, work to repair their credit and prevent future theft. Hotline operators can also assist callers who want to take proactive steps to prevent their personal information from being stolen.

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