UTPD reports increase in IRS phone scams

Zainab Calcuttawala

UTPD reported an increased prevalence of phone scammers who portray themselves as Internal Revenue Service agents collecting back taxes and other fees, according to an email UTPD sent to the University last week.

“These callers may demand money or may say you have a refund due and try to trick you into sharing private information…” the email read. “They may know a lot about you, and they usually alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling. … If you don’t answer, they often leave an ‘urgent’ callback request.”

UTPD has received a total of seven reports of successful IRS impersonators over the past two years, UTPD spokesperson, Cindy Posey, said in an email.

UTPD Officer William Pieper said statistics regarding phone scams do not represent the total number of scam attempts on campus because, when they are unsuccessful, they are labeled attempted fraud.

IRS policies prohibit the agency from calling citizens to demand immediate payment without prior mail contact, demanding tax payments without opportunity for appeal, requiring citizens to use a specific payment method, asking for debit or credit card information over the phone, or threatening arrest by other law enforcement agencies. If someone who claims to be an IRS agent does any of the aforementioned things, they are more than likely a scammer, according to the email.

The methods that IRS impersonators use to defraud victims can indicate that they are not official representatives of the IRS, agency commissioner John Koskinen said.

“These telephone scams are being seen in every part of the country, and we urge people not to be deceived by these threatening phone calls,” Koskinen said. “We have formal processes in place for people with tax issues. The IRS respects taxpayer rights, and these angry, shake-down calls are not how we do business.”

This issue was previously reported on Oct. 19.