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State attorney general issues warning about IRS phone scam

State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman warned Western New Yorkers Monday to be wary of telephone scams by people posing as Internal Revenue Service officials.

He reported “a sharp spike” in the number of complaints his offices in the region have received recently.

Individuals pose as IRS officials and demand payment of a debt the resident never heard about.

“With the holiday season rapidly approaching the last thing families needs is to be scammed out of their hard-earned money,” Schneiderman said. “It is shameful that scam artists target people with bogus threats and scare tactics, but following a few basic tips can help you fight back and stay safe,” he said.

They often ask for personal information which can be used in an identity theft crime.

The attorney general stressed that the IRS and other government agencies never demand payments in telephone calls, saying “if you owe money you will receive a legitimate notice in writing that identifies the agency and the reason you owe money.”

The attorney general also said personal information including Social Security numbers and bank account information should never be given to telephone callers.

Schneiderman stressed that “legitimate government organizations will never threaten arrest or deportation for failure to pay a debt.”

The attorney general said scammers frequently target senior citizens, college students or first-generation Americans for their schemes often using computer-related spoofing technology to make their phone calls look on someone’s caller ID line look like it is coming from a legitimate IRS office.