IRS warns of scam calls

LIHUE — An island resident is reporting that an early morning scam call threatened her with legal action.

Sarah Rogers of Kapaa said she was awakened by her phone ringing at 4 a.m. on Dec. 9. She was too tired to pick up but became alarmed while listening to the voicemail recording of a person claiming to be calling from the Internal Revenue Service.

“The caller said ‘This is the IRS and your final notice that we are filling a lawsuit against you,’” Rogers said. “It was a robo call but certainly one to wake you up and keep you up.”

The call came from (202) 738-1233 which is a Washington, D.C., area code. The dialogue sounded official and gave no hints that it was not actually the IRS.

Rogers said she knew she wasn’t in any trouble with the IRS, and that if she were, notice would be through certified mail or other official channel. Credit card companies and the government warn people that they don’t communicate critical information by phone.

“I have had scam calls before but that call was especially disturbing because it said ‘IRS’ which gives everyone a gasp,” Rogers said. “It said this is final notice, we’ve been trying to call you, and a lawsuit is going to be filed against you unless you call this number for further information.”

A call like that is enough to scare anybody, she added. She entered the number in an online keyword search and saw several pages with posts complaining about receiving similar messages, including some from people who returned the call.

The IRS warns consumers that sophisticated phone scam calls from people claiming to represent the IRS use fake names and badge numbers in an effort to target taxpayers and immigrants.

The callers use hostile and insulting language while attempting to scare victims into believing they owe the government money and must pay it immediately through pre-loaded debit cards or wire transfers.

It tells them that if they don’t reply, they could face possible arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license.

The IRS asserts that it does not ask for credit card numbers over the phone, nor will it request a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer. A call claiming to be from the IRS and making any threats or demands for card and wire payments is a sure sign it is not the IRS, according to a press release.

It is not uncommon for scam calls or emails to include some information about the victim, and they may be able to recite all or some of a Social Security number, or other personal confidential information. The IRS encourages people to not reply and hang up if they receive that sort of call.

People receiving calls claiming to be from the IRS are asked to call the IRS at (800) 829-1040.

Victims can also report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at or (808) 366-4484.


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