Don’t believe threatening callers posing as IRS agents

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — It’s tax season — and some crooks may consider it open season.

“In the past two days, our Consumer Protection Unit has received more than a dozen calls, alerting us that the scam artists are back,” said Attorney General Peter Kilmartin Wednesday.

Phony callers are making the rounds again, calling Rhode Island taxpayers purporting to be IRS agents, and claiming that the taxpayer owes back taxes that must be paid immediately. The Rhode Island Attorney General’s office is warning people to be on their guard against giving money or information to such charlatans.

The callers may threaten to have the taxpayer arrested or even deported, unless they make a payment on the spot using a credit card, a direct withdrawl from a bank account, a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer.

Al Cadenhead, a senior pastor at the Providence Baptist Church, was told he would be arrested if he did not comply.

“This woman gave me her name and her badge number, she said she was informing me that they were filing a warrant for my arrest,” he said.

Cadenhead reluctantly followed orders. He withdrew money from his bank and went to drug stores to buy prepaid debit cards. He says he read the scammers the pin numbers on the cards, allowing them direct access to his money.

In the end he gave them $16,000.

Kilmartin’s office said that caller ID may appear to be an IRS telephone number, a bogus e-mail might show up attempting to support or corroborate the calls, but these are high-tech ruses. The callers often become rude and threatening if the taxpayer asks questions.

“If you receive a call like this, please hang up, and then contact our office so that we can warn other consumers,” Kilmartin added.

The most important point to remember: No legitimate government agency will make a phone call to a taxpayer to demand immediate payment.

You can also call the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at (800) 366-4484, or file a report online at http://www.tigta.gov.

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