With a spike in consumer complaints coming into the office within the past day, Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin is warning Rhode Islanders to be on the lookout for the latest “IRS phone scam” to hit the area. According to some estimates, consumers across the country have reported more than $8 million in losses from this scam in the past year.
In this most recent wave of the IRS scam, individuals are contacting taxpayers via telephone, telling them they owe back taxes and demanding that the victim pay the money immediately with a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. The caller often threatens the victim with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license. In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting.
Thieves who run this scam often:
About the Office of the Attorney General Consumer Protection Unit
The Office of the Attorney General Consumer Protection Unit investigates and mediates consumer complaints concerning unfair and unlawful business practices and misleading advertising arising out of alleged violations of the Deceptive Trade Practices Act. If groups of people are victimized by a deceptive trade practice, this office may file in the Superior Court a civil investigative demand, which is a formal investigation. In appropriate cases, a lawsuit to stop the illegal business practice may be initiated.
Apart from carrying out its statutory responsibilities, the Unit also provides information and referral services to the general public. Consumers are directed to the appropriate governmental or private agencies for help in answering specialized questions or resolving disputes that are not within the Unit's jurisdiction.
The Consumer Protection Unit is available to speak to community groups on how to prevent being a victim of identity theft and other scams. For more information, please visit www.riag.ri.gov or call (401) 274-4400.