News Column

Taxpayers beware: Phony IRS/FTB agents trying to scam consumers

February 6, 2014

By Claudia Buck, The Sacramento Bee



Feb. 06--For the second time in several months, California taxpayers are getting warned about scammers pretending to be IRS or state Franchise Tax Board agents.

Consumers are reminded to never give out their Social Security, bank or credit card numbers -- by phone or email -- "to anyone who cannot verify they are FTB employees," said state Controller John Chiang, in a statement. If you're suspicious, ask the caller to confirm information from the tax notice the FTB previously sent you. Or, "hang up and contact the FTB immediately to talk to a live agent."

In recent weeks, the FTB has heard from people who've been sent phony emails, offering to check on their state tax refund. The scammers ask consumers to verify their identity by providing Social Security or bank account information. In other cases, consumers have received calls from supposed IRS agents, who claim the consumers owe back taxes and will be jailed if they don't pay up.

Last October, other scam attempts occured in Beverly Hills, where seniors were contacted and told they faced jail time if they didn't pay fines to the FTB for red-light tickets -- by sending a prepaid debit card.

"The Controller's advice is the best advice," said FTB spokesman John Barrett. "Be vigilant and don't be afraid to call us and verify it's an actual FTB employee."

Barrett said the FTB never asks taxpayers for PINs, passwords or similar access to credit cards, bank accounts or other financial information. Taxpayers can verify their FTB account information at www.ftb.ca.gov or by calling (800) 852-5711.

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Source: Sacramento Bee (CA)


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