Phone scams are gaining in popularity as technology advances - just ask the IRS.
The government agency is being impersonated over the phone everyday by highly sophisticated scammers trying to pull a fast one on you.
The calls are so frequent they border on harassment. The caller on the other end of the line is likely calling from outside the U.S. and you are being told to divulge your personal information or face arrest.
People all over the country getting calls with area codes originating from Washington state, Kansas City, California and elsewhere.
The IRS says this year alone, since January 1st, over 5,000 IRS scam victims have been reported with losses nationwide totaling $20 million. And so far, in 2016, Illinois ranks 7th in the U.S. when it comes to the number of victims reported with total losses coming to $1.4 million.
They are such a problem even the IRS finds itself largely helpless when it comes to shutting these scammers down.
The calls usually start with: "My name is Sherry Matthews and my badge ID number is IRM76526."
But the real IRS right in Chicago says Sherry Matthews is indeed a fraud. Every taxpayer should know this for one very good reason: The real IRS will never initiate a phone call.
Sometime the scam runs with the alleged government agency makes it seem like you, the taxpayer, owe the IRS some money.
These days, the scammers have a new angle. They've launched a second scam saying the IRS owes you money and ask for your bank account and other personal information.
These cases are hard to track down and prosecute for a lot of reasons. One factor, the IRS believes most originate overseas.
If you get one of these calls and actually lose money in the process, report the loss to the Treasury Inspector General for tax administration or TIGTA.
While the Inspector General has been able to take down a few operations, the IRS says the office has no control over the harassing callers and cannot stop those. Largely, all the government can do is make people more aware the scams are happening.
More info at https://www.treasury.gov/tigta/