According to information provided by the Internal Revenue Service, tax scams continue to be on the rise. It is important to use caution when viewing emails and receiving telephone calls supposedly from the IRS. Falling victim to one of these scams can not only be costly, but also aggravating in the time it can take to straighten out the resulting mess.
The IRS reports there are a multitude of tactics that scam artists employ to ensnare their prey and lists some examples of possible scams taxpayers may encounter, warning taxpayers to be careful:
In a typical phone scam situation, potential victims are threatened with deportation, arrest, shutting off utilities, or revocation of drivers’ licenses by a scam caller. Potential victims may be told they are entitled to big refunds or, conversely, that they owe money that must be paid immediately to the IRS.
If you get a phone call from someone indicating they are from the IRS, note the following:
The IRS WILL NEVER call to demand immediate payment over the phone, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill. All correspondence from the IRS comes IN THE MAIL. The IRS also will never:
- Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying an IRS tax bill.
- Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.
- Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer.
- Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money and you don’t think you owe taxes, here’s what you should do:
- Do not give out any information. Hang up immediately.
- Contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (“TIGTA”) to report the call. Use their “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” webpage or call 800-366-4484.
- Report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on FTC.gov. Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.
It is also important to be on the lookout for possible email scams that use the IRS logo as a lure. The IRS DOES NOT initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. In fact, in most situations, the IRS does NOT use email at all, including any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels.
The IRS also does not ask for PINs, passwords or similar confidential access information for credit card, bank or other financial accounts via emails or any other means. If you receive a suspicious email, do not open any attachments or click on any links contained in the message.
With the New Year, taxpayers, especially aging adults who are frequent victims of IRS scams, are reminded to be aware of these tactics. Taxpayers need to be careful, remain skeptical and if you have any questions related to a suspicious email, letter or a call, please contact the IRS.