IRS sends letters, doesn't use telephone, email, text or social media.

The Fraud and Consumer Protection Division of Attorney General Matt Denn’s office is warning consumers and employers to be on guard against fake IRS phone call scams and IRS Form W-2 email phishing scams that are targeting employers, including retail businesses, school districts, nonprofit organizations and law firms.

In a typical IRS phone scam, a caller pretends to work for the IRS or the U.S. Treasury Department and tells the intended victim that the IRS will imminently be filing suit against the victim or threatens the intended victim with arrest or some other kind of punishment, and the only way to avoid the lawsuit or arrest is to immediately pay a sum of money.

Scammers claim that the person answering the call has unpaid taxes that must be paid immediately to avoid a lawsuit or arrest.

The IRS says that these scammers often spoof the telephone number to disguise where they are calling from, and they sometimes manipulate the caller ID information so it seems like the call is coming from the IRS. They may even give out a fake IRS badge number and may even know the last four digits of a victim’s Social Security number and try to use that information to gain a victim’s trust.

As a reminder, the IRS will not reach out to a taxpayer with an initial contact by telephone, email, text message or social media. The IRS also will not demand credit or debit card payment over the telephone nor will the IRS demand that a billed be paid in a specific manner.

Denn urges consumers to ignore these calls and not return voicemail messages. Consumers should instead do the following:

— If consumers are worried that the call might be real, because they owe federal taxes or think they might owe federal taxes, hang up and call the IRS directly at 800-829-1040. IRS workers there will be able to help with any payment questions.

— Report the scam to federal authorities: Fill out the IRS impersonation scam form at treasury.gov/tigta/contact_report_scam.shtml or call 800-366-4484 and also consider filing a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov, add IRS telephone scam to the comments.

The Fraud Division also warns Delawareans about an email scam that has been circulating nationwide and is targeting a wide variety of public and private-sector employers, including retail businesses, universities, secondary school districts, nonprofit organizations, hospitals and law firms. The scam first appeared in 2016 and has been making its way across the country again in 2017.

Typically, the scammer sends a “spoofing” email posing as an internal executive or official within the organization, requesting employee payroll data, including IRS W-2 forms that contain Social Security numbers and other personally identifiable information. If these cybercriminals are successful in tricking payroll and human resource officials into disclosing that data, they can use the data to file fraudulent tax returns for refunds and commit other forms of identity theft.

The IRS has also established a process that will allow employers and payroll service providers to report any data losses related to this W-2 scam: bit.ly/2ohM4D1. If notified in time, the IRS can take steps to prevent employees from being victimized by identity thieves filing fraudulent returns in their names. There is also information about how to report receiving the scam email even if an employer did not fall victim to the scam.

The AG’s office also reminds employers that if they are victimized by this scam, they have suffered a data breach and may need to give notice to affected individuals under Delaware’s data breach notification law (Title 6, Chapter 12B of the Delaware Code) and may also need to give notice under other applicable state or federal law. Employers who suffer a data breach should consult with legal counsel to ensure compliance with all applicable data breach notification laws.