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Scammers Get More Aggressive in Wisconsin

Wisconsin is getting hit with a rash of calls from scammers posing as IRS agents, demanding payment for nonexistent back taxes. (Highwaystarz Photography/iStockphoto)
Wisconsin is getting hit with a rash of calls from scammers posing as IRS agents, demanding payment for nonexistent back taxes. (Highwaystarz Photography/iStockphoto)
May 18, 2016

MADISON, Wis. - Even though officials at the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection keep expecting the so-called "IRS scam" to go away, it now appears the scammers are more aggressive than ever.

People across the state are reporting calls from scammers claiming to be with the Internal Revenue Service, demanding immediate payment for nonexistent back taxes, and threatening legal action or jail time.

Jerad Albracht, senior communications specialist with the state agency, says the IRS will never call you, but the scam keeps claiming more victims.

"Three weeks ago, our hotline got 69 inquiries about them. The week later, which was two weeks ago, they had 28 so that was a bit of a lull. Last week, we had 161," says Albracht. "So, there was some sort of a spike last week that was very severe, and we're hearing about it from people all over the state."

Albracht says the IRS will only contact you by mail if there's an issue with your taxes.

If you question the legitimacy of a communication from a government agency, contact the state's Consumer Protection Hotline at 800-422-7128.

According to Albracht, in the latest round of IRS impostor calls, the scammers have added a new way to try and get money from their victims.

"The scammers are starting to ask for iTunes gift cards as a way to make payment," he says. "The FTC has warned about it federally, so it is becoming a bigger deal. If you can give them the PIN number from a prepaid card they'll drain the funds right away and you'll never see 'em again."

Albracht says if you get a robocall from an organization representing itself as the IRS, the best thing to do is hang up immediately and don't do anything but hang up.

"If you press any buttons to be taken off of a list or do any sort of activity, you're essentially going to set yourself up for future calls," he says. "These are computer-based dialing, for the most part, so if you press any buttons or take any action, it's going to recognize your number as 'active' in the system and it's going to just continue to call you."

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI