Consumer Alert – NYS Division of Consumer Protection and the NYS Tax Department Caution New Yorkers to Beware of Elaborate Tax Collection Scams

The New York State Division of Consumer Protection and the NYS Tax Department has alerted consumers to phone and email scams from individuals claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or State Tax Department. Scammers posing as tax officials are threatening New Yorkers with fines, arrest, and other penalties if they don’t immediately pay a false claim of unpaid taxes.

“The New York Department of State’s Division of Consumer Protection wants to remind consumers to be vigilant and be aware of dishonest individuals posing as public tax officials who use fear tactics and intimidation to cheat New York taxpayers out of their hard-earned money,” said New York Secretary of State Cesar A. Perales. “We urge anyone who feels they may have been targeted to contact the proper authorities immediately.”

The agencies warned of a new email “phishing” scam that is particularly relevant during the tax season. Taxpayers receive emails with the IRS logo and claiming to be from the “Taxpayer Advocate Service.” The email asks the taxpayer to resolve an issue with his or her “2013 filing” by clicking a link in the email. The webpage accessed then solicits personal information such as the recipient’s legal name and contact information.

The telephone scams are conducted by a caller who instructs recipients to immediately submit payment for back taxes through wire transfers or a pre-loaded debit card. In some cases, these calls have been accompanied by a fake IRS e-mail sent to support the claim. If victims appear hesitant or unwilling to comply, the caller turns hostile by threatening police arrest or the loss of one’s home. If the victim does not respond to these threats, the scammer may have others call the victim pretending to be from a government entity such as a local law enforcement agency.

Through telephonic “spoofing” techniques, the phone numbers appear to be that of the IRS, the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, or local police departments. Scammers have also used fake names and IRS badge numbers, and may be able to recite the last four digits of a victim’s Social Security Number.

To help consumers avoid falling victim to this scam, the New York State Department of State’s Division of Consumer Protection provides the following tips and information:

– The NYS Tax Department and the IRS always make first contact by letter with a phone number you can contact to verify that it was sent by the agency.

– Neither agency will request personal or financial information by email or with a link in an email.

– End the call immediately if someone claiming to be from the Tax Department or IRS unexpectedly calls and threatens police arrest, deportation or license revocation.

Contact the authorities

To report fraudulent activity to New York State authorities, contact the NYS Tax Department at 518-457-0578 or the New York State Department of State’s Division of Consumer Protection at 518-474-8583. New Yorkers can also file a complaint online.

To resolve a New York State tax debt, call 518-457-5434.

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