Scammers take advantage of taxpayers by pretending to be from the IRS. Fake phone calls, e-mails and texts inform taxpayers the IRS wants to talk to them about their tax returns and that makes most people feel on edge and less guarded about security.
While tax season emboldens these thieves, the IRS wants taxpayers to remember, just because April 15th has passed, the scams have not slowed down. In its guidance, (IR-2014-53), the tax agency reminds the public:
The IRS will always send taxpayers a written notice of any tax due via the U.S. mail. The IRS never asks for credit card, debit card or prepaid card information over the telephone.
Frequent targets may include recent immigrants who may be seen as more vulnerable. Victims are often threatened with deportation, arrest, having their utilities shut off, or having their driver’s licenses revoked. Callers may be insulting or hostile, apparently to scare potential victims into cooperating.
In other variations of the fraud, potential victims may be told they are entitled to big refunds, or conversely, they may be told they owe money which must be paid immediately to the IRS. Some taxpayers have also received calls which purported to be from the IRS informing victims about lottery or sweepstakes winnings, or soliciting donations for debt relief funds related to a well-publicized disaster, such as a flood or hurricane. Scam artists who are unsuccessful the first time may call back with a new strategy.
The IRS lists other common characteristics of this type of phone-scam to watch for:
The perpetrators use fake names and IRS badge numbers. They generally use common names and surnames to identify themselves.
They may be able to recite the last four digits of a victim’s Social Security number.
They spoof the IRS toll-free number on caller ID to make it appear that it’s the IRS calling.
They sometimes send bogus IRS e-mails to some victims to support their bogus calls.
Victims may 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 Department of Motor Vehicles, and the caller ID supports their claim.
What to Do
If you’ve been targeted by this scam, you can contact the Federal Trade Commission and use its “FTC Complaint Assistant” at FTC.gov. Please add the words “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments of your complaint.
If you receive an e-mail claiming to be from the IRS, do not open any attachments to such an e-mail, and do not click on any links within the e-mail. Instead, forward the message to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Consult your tax adviser for additional information on scams related to the IRS.
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