When IRS phone scammers call, just hang up, officials say

A local accountant says people are still falling prey to IRS phone scams, which U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro warned about in March when she visited Milford, and which local police have sent out advisories about.

“Many, many taxpayers are receiving these bogus IRS threats,” said Donna Corey, who owns a local accounting service. “They call and claim the IRS is suing and if you don't pay they will take your house away along with many other charges.

“I can't tell you how many times we get calls from clients, with quivering voices, saying that they received a threatening call from the IRS,” Corey said. “I just got back from lunch and when I was home my message machine had one of these calls.”

When U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro was in Milford in March to talk about the phone scams that have become prevalent and are bilking seniors and other unsuspecting taxpayers out of money, her advice was, “Just hang up.”

According to the Department of Consumer Affairs website, the IRS scams increased by 2,300% nationally in 2014.

The congresswoman was joined at the Milford Senior Center in March by Michelle Seagull, deputy commissioner of consumer protection, and Joseph W. Mooney, deputy commissioner of the Department of Revenue Services.

Seagull said it’s not a good idea to call the number that the pretend IRS agents leave, even to complain, because once a person dials in, they have confirmed that they are a viable phone number for contact.

Mooney said the IRS will send a letter if the agency has business with an individual. The agency will not call on the phone or send an email.

The state Department of Consumer Affairs emphasizes that fact on its website, stating, “The Internal Revenue Service contacts people via letter, and does not demand that persons immediately transfer money or send a prepaid debit card to pay taxes. Also, the IRS does not ask for PINs, passwords or similar confidential access information for credit cards, banks or other financial accounts.”

People worried that a call from the IRS is real should contact the IRS directly at 800-829-1040 or go to irs.gov. Fraudulent emails purporting to be from the IRS should be forwarded to phishing@irs.gov.

Consumers with questions may contact the attorney general’s Consumer Assistance Unit at 860-808-5420, the Department of Consumer Protection at 1-800-842-2649 or the Department of Revenue Services at 860-297-5962.

The best thing to do if someone calls claiming to be from the IRS: “You just hang up,” DeLauro said.