This office has repeatedly warned clients about scams related to taxes. The problem has only gotten worse, so we feel obligated to issue another warning. The scammers out there are pretty sophisticated and are trying to steal your identity and your money. This office doesn’t want you to become a victim, so please read this article and let family and friends know about this rapidly escalating scam based upon individuals’ fears of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and their overreaction to calls claiming to be from the IRS. You can even forward this article to your friends and family, and especially be sure to make your elderly family members aware of these scams.
The IRS and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) continue to hear from taxpayers who have received unsolicited calls from individuals demanding payment while fraudulently claiming to be from the IRS. Based on the 90,000 complaints that TIGTA has received through its telephone hotline, through mid-year, TIGTA has identified approximately 1,100 victims who have lost an estimated $5 million from these scams. We can only imagine how many thousands of taxpayers haven’t reported their losses and encounters with these scammers.
Taxpayers should remember their first contact with the IRS will not be a call from out of the blue, but through official correspondence sent through the mail. A big red flag for these scams is an angry, threatening call from someone who says he or she is from the IRS and urging immediate payment. This is not how the IRS operates. If you receive such a call, you should hang up immediately.
Additionally, it is important for taxpayers to know that the IRS:
- Never asks for credit card, debit card, or prepaid card information over the telephone.
- Never insists that taxpayers use a specific payment method to pay tax obligations.
- Never requests immediate payment over the telephone.
- Will not take enforcement action immediately following a phone conversation. Taxpayers usually receive prior written notification of IRS enforcement action involving IRS tax liens or levies.
Potential phone scam victims may be told that they owe money that must be paid immediately to the IRS; or, on the flip side, that they are entitled to big refunds. When unsuccessful the first time, sometimes phone scammers call back trying a new strategy. Other characteristics of these scams include:
- Scammers use fake names and IRS badge numbers. They generally use common names and surnames to identify themselves.
- Scammers may be able to recite the last four digits of a victim’s Social Security number. Make sure you do not provide the rest of the number or your birth date…that is information ID thieves can use to make your life miserable.
- Scammers spoof the IRS toll-free number on caller ID to make it appear that it’s the IRS calling.
- Scammers sometimes send bogus IRS e-mails to some victims to support their bogus calls.
- Victims hear background noise of other calls being conducted to mimic a call site.
- After threatening victims with jail time or driver’s license revocation, scammers hang up and others soon call back pretending to be from the local police or DMV, and the caller ID supports their claim.
DON’T GET HOODWINKED…it is a scam. If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, DO NOT give the caller any information or money. Instead, you should immediately hang up. Call this office if you are concerned about the validity of the call.
The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by e-mail to request personal or financial information. This includes 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. If you receive such a request or communication, DO NOT open any attachments or click on any links contained in the message. If you wish to help the government combat these scams, forward the e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is not the only scam currently making the rounds; you should be aware that there are other, unrelated, scams (such as a lottery sweepstakes) and solicitations (such as debt relief) that fraudulently claim to be from the IRS. When in doubt, please call this office.