IRS phone scams spike in Illinois

By Scot Bertram 
Illinois News Network

The Better Business Bureau is warning of a recent spike in phone scam attempts across Illinois.

Steve Bernas, president and CEO of Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois, says this is a long-running operation in which people pose as IRS agents and demand immediate payment.

“Normally, people will wise up and not send money,” Bernas said. “That’s how scams go out of business. But this one has taken on a life of its own and keeps growing.”

A clear sign of a scam call is the request for money sent in a short amount of time.

“If you have to pay money immediately, that day, right away, nobody does that to you,” Bernas said. “The IRS is not going to call you and tell you that you have 30 minutes to pay. The only thing you should pay within 30 minutes is a pizza delivery man. Anybody asking for money in 30 minutes is 110 percent a scam.”

Callers also might inform victims that an arrest warrant has been issued due to attempted tax fraud. Bernas says the scammers are skilled at convincing victims of harsh consequences if they don’t comply.

“I have people calling me from all walks of life,” Bernas said. “I had a reporter call me. I had a reporter’s mother call me. It’s so real to them that they think it’s truly the IRS.”

According to the Better Business Bureau, the IRS does not make phone calls to issue threats about payments. They also make multiple contact attempts via mail before resorting to any other method of communication.

Bernas also says you can’t simply trust your Caller ID to alert you to a suspicious number.

“Most consumers don’t know Caller IDs can be altered with a simple program that can be found online for about $20. It’s spoofing.”

The Better Business Bureau asks you to report all scam phone calls to, whether successful or not.

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