Tax Scam Alerts
Just because it’s not tax time, it does not mean that scammers are not attempting to lure information out of taxpayers by posing as IRS agents. The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) reports that over 12,000 victims have collectively paid out over $63 million dollars since 2013, mainly as a result of phone scams. It is important to be alert to the different methods these criminals these may use and know how you can avoid being fooled.
Phishing Scams: If any email or website asks for personal information you should be concerned about providing it. Phishing emails create a sense of urgency and manipulate the victim into thinking they need to act immediately in order to avoid prosecution or fines. Sometimes these emails will demand payment or they will take your personal information and use them in other criminal ways.
Phone Scams: In addition to phishing emails, some scammers will use a phone call. Like emails, these calls use manipulation and a sense of urgency to con you in to giving up information. Often they are threatening legal action that can be avoided with immediate payment. They may also say that you are in danger of being arrested, deported, or having your license revoked. They usually ask for payment using wire transfers or prepaid debit cards. Another scam is a phone call that says you have an unexpected refund and you are asked to provide banking information so it can be deposited to your account. Here, they use a seemingly positive situation, but the goal is to have you provide your personal information.
Identity Theft: In both the email and phone scams, the primary motive may not be to get money from the victim but to gather personal information. Do not give out any bank account information, taxpayer identification number, or social security number. This gives con artists the opportunity to access your tax refund or file fraudulent tax returns under your name.
One way to be sure you don’t fall prey to these scams is to know how the IRS does contact people and what they will ask of you if they do. The IRS will not:
Call to demand immediate payment; the IRS will first mail a bill to anyone who owes taxes.
They will not demand immediate payment without offering you an opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.
They will not demand a specific payment method be used.
They do not ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
They will not call you about an unexpected refund.
They do not use automated calling methods with prerecorded messages.
If you believe you are being contacted by a scammer, first, do not give out any information. If it is by email, do not click any links. If by phone, it is best to hang up immediately. You should contact TIGTA to report the call or email, or you can use their IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting web page.