Tax fraudsters continue preying on Rhode Islanders

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Crooks are still making efforts to cheat, lie to, and steal from Rhode Island taxpayers, pretending to be from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in phone calls or emails.

Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin sent out a consumer alert Friday, saying his office has had a new influx of complaints about the fraudulent calls. The crooks started when tax season started to hit its stride, back in March.

A fraudster may call or email you, saying that you owe back taxes, and threatening to have you arrested, deported, or your driver’s license suspended — unless you pay up immediately.

Don’t believe it, and don’t pay, said Kilmartin.

“In many cases, the callers are rude and aggressive, and become hostile if the consumer questions them,” the attorney general said.

The caller may demand payment be made in the form of a prepaid debit card, a wire transfer, a credit card or an authorized bank account withdrawl.

“Many consumers are nervous when they receive a call claiming to be from the IRS, and scam artists prey on that fear,” Kilmartin said.

Crooks can also fiddle with caller ID, making it look like they’re from the IRS.

If you get a call, hang up, Kilmartin says, and then take these steps:

  • Call and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484 or online at http://www.tigta.gov.
  • Alert the Rhode Island Office of the Attorney General by calling the Consumer Protection Unit at 401-274-4400, or your state’s attorney general office.