The Maine Attorney General’s Office says there's a recent increase in the number of Mainers reporting they are the target of phone scams in which someone pretends to be calling to collect a debt owed to the Internal Revenue Service.

Maine Attorney General Janet T. Mills says no one should give people credit card information or wire money. Mills says 250 people called the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division about these scams in August.

Mills says these are often randomly dialed calls, but for some reason, the 207 area code seems to be their target in recent days.

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Scammers posing as IRS officials call and say that taxes are owed. The caller threatens to arrest or deport the person, revoke a driver's license, or shut down a person's business if payment is not immediately. Mills says the caller may know the mark's Social Security number — or at least the last four digits of it — making the persons think it really is the IRS calling. The scammers also can rig caller ID to make it look like the call is coming from Washington, DC.

Instructions are then given to put the money on a prepaid debit card and tell the xaller the card number. Once the money is transferred, there are sometimes demands for more payments until  the victim realizes it was a scam and/or has no more money to give.

Mills says no governmental agency or legitimate business will call you up and demand an immediate payment by credit card or by a pre-paid debit card you find in a convenience store, and you should hang up the phone immediately without answers any of the callers questions.

consumer.ftc.gov

If you owe or think you owe  federal taxes, Mills says the correct thing to do is to call the IRS at 800-829-1040 or go to irs.gov.  The IRS doesn’t ask people to pay with prepaid debit cards or wire transfers, and doesn’t ask for credit card numbers over the phone. When the IRS contacts people about unpaid taxes, they usually do it by mail, not by phone.

You can report IRS imposter scams to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration online or at 800-366-4484, and to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.

If you have questions about these or other consumer matters, contact the Consumer Protection Division of the Maine Attorney General’s Office online or at 1(800) 436-2131 .