WV Attorney General's Office: IRS phone scams increasing

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WDTV) -- The West Virginia Attorney General’s Office says there has been a spike in scam calls with scammers saying they are with the Internal Revenue Service.

In a press release Wednesday afternoon, the office says the increase in scam calls may be related to the October 16 tax deadline for those that filed for an extension in April.

The office says the scams typically begin with a phone call saying that the IRS will arrest the person called is he or she refuses to follow their instructions. Those targeted are typically told they need to pay immediately, and if the person called refuses, they are threatened with imminent arrest.

The Attorney General’s Office says one victim in Kanawha County reportedly lost $1000 when they purchased gift cards to comply with the scammers’ demands.

“These calls can be very intimidating,” stated Attorney Patrick General Morrisey. “Consumers must stay calm, remain on guard and verify the caller’s legitimacy before taking action.”

According to the Attorney General’s Office, the scam callers will sometimes use common names, and claim to know the last four digits the person called’s Social Security number. They also may pose as their own supervisor if the person called asks for management.

The office says things to watch out for include:

-if the call comes from an out-of-state phone number

-if the call comes from an automated calling machine

-if the person calling uses a fake government badge number or phony emails

-if there are follow-up calls stating the caller represents a different agency

-Caller ID information supporting their fake representation

The Attorney General’s Office is urging consumers to ignore the scam calls and not return the scammer’s voicemail. If you fall victim to one of the scams, you are asked to report it to the U.S. Inspector General’s Office on Tax Administration by visiting http://1.usa.gov/1ClYZbP emailing Complaints@tigta.treas.gov or phishing@irs.gov.

If you have questions about scams, you can contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 800-368-8808 statewide or 304-267-0239 in Martinsburg. To file a report online, you can go to www.wvago.gov.