Fake IRS agents target more than 366,000 in huge tax scam

(AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal investigator says fake IRS agents have targeted more than 366,000 people with harassing phone calls demanding payments and threatening jail time as part of a huge nationwide scam.

A deputy inspector general for the agency says more than 3,000 people have fallen for the ruse since October 2013. He says they have been duped out of a total of $15.5 million.

In testimony before Congress Thursday, Timothy Camus said it is the largest scam of its kind in the history of the agency. Camus said people in every state have been targeted.

He said two people in Florida have been arrested. They were accused of being part of a scam that involved people in call centers in India contacting U.S. taxpayers and pretending to be IRS agents.

Some tips from the IRS to void the scam:

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—The IRS will never call you on the phone to demand immediate payment.

—The IRS will never call about taxes owed without first mailing you a notice.

—The IRS will never demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount the agency says you owe.

—The IRS will never require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.

—The IRS will never ask for credit card or debit card numbers over the phone.

—The IRS will never threaten to have you arrested for not paying.

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If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money, here’s what the IRS says you should do:

—If you think you might owe back taxes, hang up and call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040.

—If you know you don’t owe taxes, report the incident to the Treasury inspector general for tax administration, at 1-800-366-4484, or online at www.tigta.gov .

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