Earlier this year, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem issued warnings about a scam involving fake IRS calls. In the last two weeks, there has been a surge in the number of calls received by North Dakota residents and reported to the Attorney General’s office.
Stenehjem reminds consumers that these calls are fake. “This is a known scam. The IRS does not use threatening phone calls to notify taxpayers of potential problems with their tax return,” said Stenehjem.
The scam artists pretend to be IRS enforcement agents and claim the only way the victim can avoid being arrested for tax fraud is to buy pre-paid instant cash cards such as the Greendot card and then read off the numbers from the back of the card. As soon as the scam artist has those numbers, he can go online and empty the card before the victim hangs up the phone.
Attorney General Stenehjem provided the following tips:
- If you pick up the call, don’t respond to the scam artist – just hang up.
- If you receive a message on your phone, delete it without response.
- Never confirm or provide personal information in response to these scam calls.
- Don’t try to “play along” with the scam artist.
These scam calls have been circulating across the country for more than a year, although only in the last few months have North Dakota 701-area code telephone numbers been targeted.
There is no need to contact the Attorney General’s office to report receiving a fake IRS call.
Stenehjem said the scam artists are using spoofed telephone numbers so there is no way for his office to trace the calls because the number displayed is not the actual number the scam artist is using. Federal authorities believe the calls originate from outside the United States.