WARNING: State officials seeing spike in fraudulent telephone calls

MADISON (WITI) -- The Consumer Hotline at the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) is lighting up with questions about fraudulent telephone calls. Thankfully, most consumers are calling to inquire about the scam attempts, not to report that they have been victimized. DATCP asks consumers to be on the lookout for requests for payments, personal information or access to their computers during unsolicited calls.

DATCP has recently seen a spike in inquiries and complaints about fake Internal Revenue Service (IRS) phone calls (both “live” calls and robocalls). In this pervasive nationwide scam, a caller falsely claims to represent the IRS and warns the call recipients that they are behind on taxes and must make an immediate payment to avoid arrest or legal actions. After threatening victims with jail time, deportation or driver’s license revocation, scammers may hang up and call a second time claiming to be with the local police or DMV. Spoofed caller ID information will often support this claim.

The IRS has issued two separate warnings to taxpayers this year about these operations, and federal agencies have identified more than 1,000 victims nationwide who have lost an estimated $5 million in these tax scams.   If you receive a similar call, remember:

    Consumers are also reaching out to DATCP about other recent phone-based scams, including:

      Again, please remember that a request for money, personal information or access to your computer from an unsolicited caller is a scam. Hang up the phone, do not press any keys during the call and do not engage the caller in any way.

      For additional information or to file a complaint, visit the Consumer Protection Bureau at http://datcp.wisconsin.gov, send an e-mail to datcphotline@wisconsin.gov or call the Consumer Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-422-7128.