Scammers Targeting Oregon Taxpayers with Threatening Payment Demands

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum is warning consumers this week about a sophisticated phone scam that is targeting Oregon taxpayers as the April 15 tax-filing deadline approaches.

Victims are told they owe money to the IRS or Oregon Department of Revenue and that they must pay immediately through a temporary debit card or wire transfer. If the victim refuses to pay, they are then threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license. In many cases, the caller becomes aggressive and insulting.

“Oregonians need to be vigilant as the April 15 tax deadline approaches,” Rosenblum says. “The IRS and the Oregon Department of Revenue will never ask you to pay with a pre-paid debit card or make a wire transfer.”

Other characteristics of this scam include:

  • Scammers use fake names and badge numbers. They generally use common names and surnames to identify themselves.
  • Scammers may be able to recite the last four digits of a victim’s Social Security Number.
  • Scammers spoof the IRS or Department of Revenue toll-free number on caller ID.
  • Scammers sometimes send bogus IRS or Department of Revenue emails to some victims to support their bogus calls.
  • Victims hear background noise of other calls being conducted to mimic a call site.
  • After threatening victims with jail time or driver’s license revocation, scammers hang up and others soon call back pretending to be from the local police or DMV, and the caller ID supports their claim.

If consumers get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS or Oregon Department of Revenue, here’s what they should do: 

  • If they know they owe taxes or think they might owe taxes: Call the IRS at 800.829.1040 and/or the Oregon Department of Revenue at 800.356.4222.
  • If they know they do not owe taxes or have no reason to think that they owe any taxes: Call and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800.366.4484.
  • If they have lost money as a result of this scam: File a complaint with the Oregon Department of Justice online at www.oregonconsumer.gov or by phone at 877.877.9392.

Questions about this story? Contact Gary M. Stein: 503.350.2216, gstein@nwcua.org.

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