With the arrival of tax season comes the resurgence of an IRS phone scam that uses fear and intimidation behind the guise of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Con artists call people and pretend to be with the IRS, claiming that money is owed to the federal agency and demanding payment, oftentimes asking for credit or debit card information to gain access to funds. Cases have been reported where the callers threaten imminent arrest if payments aren’t made. Or, victims may be told they have a refund due to try to trick them into sharing private information.
According to IRS officials, imposters may know a lot about who they contact because they have gained illegal access to their personal information. The IRS phone scam perpetrators usually alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling, and they use fake names and bogus IRS identification badge numbers. If calls aren’t answered, messages are left that include an “urgent” callback request.
The IRS says there are five things that the agency will not do that serve as signs of an IRS phone scam:
- Call to demand immediate payment, or call about taxes owed without first having mailed a bill.
- Demand that taxes be paid 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 have local police or other law-enforcement groups arrest you for not paying.
According to the IRS, it does not use e-mail, text messages or any social media to discuss your personal tax issue. And remember, never give personal information, including social security information to a caller, regardless of who they claim to be.
If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money, remain calm and hang up the phone without providing any personal or sensitive financial information. If you know you owe taxes or think you might owe, call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040.
In addition to reporting this IRS phone scam to the IRS, you are also advised to report such incidents to local law enforcement agencies as well as the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 1-800-366-4484 or at www.treasury.gov/tigta/contact_report_scam.shtml.
The IRS suggests that IRS phone scam victims also contact the Federal Trade Commission and use their “FTC Complaint Assistant” at www.FTC.gov. Add “IRS Phone Scam” to the comments of your complaint.
For more information on reporting tax scams, go to www.irs.gov and type “scam” in the search box. Additional information about such scams is available on IRS social media sites, including YouTube at youtube.com/user/irsvideos, and Tumblr at www.internalrevenueservice.tumblr.com, where you can search “scam” to find all the scam-related posts.