Don’t Fall Victim, Know These IRS Scams
The old fashioned telephone is still one of the most popular ways IRS scammers will target victims this tax season.
That’s right. Phone calls from people impersonating the IRS and demanding money have been named to the top of the “Dirty Dozen” list of IRS scams.
The scammers may try to convince you that you are actually due a larger refund. Or, it could be the opposite – that you owe a large amount of back taxes and must pay them as soon as possible. This scenario happened to comedian, and former MTV VJ, Dave Holmes in January.
Holmes tweeted about the encounter, which went so far as to direct him to withdraw thousands of dollars from his bank and deposit it into a supposed “IRS” account.
A very stern person answered the phone & spoke very quickly: this is in reference to your audit in 2008. (which happened. I owed zero.) 4/20
— Dave Holmes (@DaveHolmes) January 21, 2016
While his perspective is humorous, someone falling victim to the scam is anything but. Since October 2015, the IRS has identified more than 5,000 victims who have collectively paid more than $26 million as a result of the scam.
It is important to know that the IRS will never:
- Call to demand immediate payment, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.
- Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
- Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
- Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
- Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
If you receive a phone call, or an email with similar messages, do not respond. Do not give them any personal information. You can report the incident online or call the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484. Suspicious emails can be forwarded to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Phishing emails, generally, are another common scam. The emails may appear to be from the IRS, but there have been several new variations tricking people this tax season. The IRS put out a recent alert warning payroll and human resources professionals that scammers are sending emails that appear to be from executives at their own company. The emails request personal information of employees.
Be wary of any email you get that requests personal information, log in information or includes a link to another destination where you can provide that information. The IRS reports a 400% increase in these phishing emails this year – so extreme caution is warranted.
Additionally, if you are a victim of any IRS scams it is always wise to make sure you select a qualified and trustworthy tax professional that can help answer questions about contact with the IRS and assist you.