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U.S. IRS warns of telephone tax scam involving fake caller IDs

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Internal Revenue Service warned on Thursday about a growing tax scam in which fraudsters display an IRS phone number on the intended victim's caller ID and demand money.

Particularly targeting recent U.S. immigrants, the scammer typically tells the targets over the phone that they owe money to the IRS and demands payment via a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer, the IRS said.

The victim's caller ID displays an IRS toll-free number in a deception known as caller ID spoofing. For added effect, the scammers often add background noise on the call that sounds like an official call center. They may also send follow-up emails from a bogus IRS address.

The IRS said there could be hundreds of instances of the scam operating nationwide. "If someone unexpectedly calls claiming to be from the IRS and threatens police arrest, deportation or license revocation if you don't pay immediately, that is a sign that it really isn't the IRS calling," said IRS Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel in a statement.

"We do not and will not ask for credit card numbers over the phone, nor request a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer."

People who think they have been deceived by a caller ID tax scam should contact the Federal Trade Commission, the IRS said.

(Reporting by Patrick Temple-West; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Bob Burgdorfer)

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