It’s the scam that seemingly won’t go away, and now Wisconsin authorities are reporting the latest version of the IRS phone hoax is starting to go around the state.
The updated scam is based on a change in procedure recently made by the IRS, which has now begun using four approved debt-collection companies to assist in collecting tax debts more than two years old. In this new variant, victims are called by someone posing as an officer of one of these approved IRS debt collection agencies, threatening a lawsuit or arrest if they don’t pay up immediately via prepaid debit card.
“Over the last six weeks we’ve received 142 calls from consumers alerting us that they have been not necessarily the victim of this particular call, but they did get the call,” said Frank Frassetto, who is with the state department of consumer protection. “So we know it’s continuing and it’s not going away.”
In what should be a tip that it’s a scam, the victim is warned not to contact their tax preparer, an attorney, or even the IRS, until the payment is made. Frassetto advises consumers that the IRS makes initial contact with taxpayers only via the U.S. Postal Service.
“First of all the IRS does not call people, threaten them, and demand payment,” he said. “And secondly, the previous twist was that people had to buy a iTunes gift card, not just your standard old prepaid debit card. That obviously is a huge red flag.”
If you get such a call, Frassetto says just hang up. But he also advises anyone who’s gotten such a call to write down the phone number of the caller, and report it, so the state’s consumer protection experts can help warn others.
“What we do is we take this information and if we see a pattern emerging, we try to alert other Wisconsin consumers of these things that are happening, and to be on the lookout and to not be taken in by this particular fraud.”
You can report these I-R-S scam calls via the state’s Consumer Protection Hotline at 800-422-7128, or by sending an email to “firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Chamber of Commerce Scam in Clintonville
Recently, the Clintonville Chamber of Commerce received information that phone calls are being made asking your name and your current address. When the called person questioned who wanted to know they answered “the Chamber of Commerce” and explained it was the US Chamber of Commerce.
The Clintonville Chamber advises residents that they are not members of the US Chamber of Commerce, nor do they do any surveys by phone for the chamber.
Any questions can be answered by the chamber directly by calling (715) 853-4606
Outagmie County Sheriff’s Department Scam
Authorities in Outagamie County are warning residents about phone calls from someone claiming to be “Lieutenant Harris,” claiming to be with the Outagmie Sheriff’s Office.
They advise that the caller is telling people that he needs to collect a bond or else he will track them down and put them in jail.
The sheriff’s office advises that they do not employ a Lt. Steven Harris, nor do they collect bonds over the phone.
People are instructed to hang up if they receive a call from this scammer and never give out personal information over the phone.