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Phone Scammers Mimicking IRS Net $1 Million in Swindle

March 20 (Bloomberg) -- People pretending to be Internal Revenue Service officials have taken $1 million from taxpayers, according to the tax agency’s inspector general.

The callers, aided with faked caller IDs showing they are from the IRS, tell taxpayers that they owe the tax agency and must use a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer to make their payment. The IRS issued a warning about a similar or identical scam last year.

“If someone unexpectedly calls claiming to be from the IRS and uses threatening language if you don’t pay immediately, that is a sign that it really isn’t the IRS calling,” Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, said in a statement today.

Thousands of people have been victims, according to the inspector general’s office.

The IRS typically contacts people first by mail and doesn’t demand payment by wire or debit card.

The actual IRS telephone number is (800) 829-1040 and the agency’s website is www.irs.gov.

U.S. individuals must pay their 2013 taxes by April 15. The IRS has received 75.1 million returns as of March 14, more than half of what it expects to get this year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Richard Rubin in Washington at rrubin12@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jodi Schneider at jschneider50@bloomberg.net Steven Komarow

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