With tax season upon us, authorities are seeing a spike in scams related to tax returns. In particular, robocalls claiming to be IRS are targeting taxpayers.
Experts say avoiding this scam is easy, once you know that the IRS never uses robocalls to contact taxpayers about taxes that are owed. In fact, they do not use robocalls at all, and phone calls in general are rare. Mail is still the primary source of initial contact from IRS.
Most of the robocalls attempt to use a payment scam, claiming the victim owes the IRS back taxes. However, a new version of the scam has also surfaced in which the robocall attempts to gain the taxpayer’s personal data to be sold off later. In either case, the robocall directs the taxpayer to a live person, who attempts to scam money or information.
The FTC has issued a warning about fake IRS calls that are tricking consumers into paying money they supposedly owe but will only accept payment via prepaid card or wire transfer. Scammers are spoofing their caller ID information to appear as if they are calling from the IRS. The scammers will state that you are guilty of tax fraud, owe the IRS money, and if payment is not received, you could be arrested. These scammers use common names and fake IRS badge numbers. They also may know the last four digits of your social security number.
There is also evidence that these criminals are targeting immigrants, the elderly and others whose native language may not be English. While there is some variation to the scam, one common thread is the demand for money to be paid using prepaid debit cards, wire transfers, or credit cards.
What You Should Know
The IRS does not make demands for tax debt to be paid using prepaid debit cards or wire transfers, nor will they threaten you over the phone.
Do NOT provide personal information such as your full social security number or credit card information to any such individuals who are making threats over the phone.
If you do have a legitimate tax issue with the IRS, they will contact you by mail.
The IRS does not use email, text messaging or social media to collect personal or financial information.
What You Can Do
You can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov/complaint. You should include “IRS Telephone Scam” in your complaint.
Forward emails from the IRS to [email protected] Don’t open any attachments or click on any links found in the emails.
If you are worried about tax issues, you can contact the IRS at 800-829-1040.