In recent months, a phone scam has been going on in which fraudsters are contacting innocent taxpayers by phone, posing as IRS agents, and demanding payments. While it appeared that the scam had been on the decline, new evidence shows it remains an ongoing problem.
A Lowdown on the Scam
Last week, the IRS issued a consumer alert for all taxpayers regarding an ongoing phone scam, along with some additional details and tips to avoid tax fraud in this particular case. In this current IRS phone scam, callers often demand money right off the bat or say you have a refund due and attempt to trick you into providing them with personal information. These perpetrators try to sound extremely convincing and official when they call what they hope will be a potential victim. They could already have some of your personal information aside from your phone number, and they typically use a name that shows up on caller ID as someone from the IRS. In addition, they may identify themselves with a fake name and IRS identification badge number. If someone doesn’t pick up their calls, they’ll leave a voicemail that is marked “urgent.”
According to IRS commissioner John Koskinen, this scam is very widespread across the country and is affecting taxpayers across the board.
“These telephone scams are being seen in every part of the country, and we urge people not to be deceived by these threatening phone calls,” said Koskinen in a statement on IRS.gov. “We have formal processes in place for people with tax issues. The IRS respects taxpayer rights, and these angry, shake-down calls are not how we do business.”
Avoiding the Scam
The agency warns taxpayers to be on the lookout for the following behaviors that may be linked to this IRS phone scam:
- Individuals who call you about taxes you owe the IRS without sending you a notice in the mail beforehand
- Individuals who demand you pay taxes without giving you a chance to appeal or question the amount they demand from you as payment
- Individuals who call and say that you must use a specific payment method to cover a tax bill like a prepaid debit card
- Individuals who demand that you give them a credit or debit card number over the phone
- Callers who threaten you by saying they will contact law enforcement to have you arrested for failing to pay the IRS
- Anyone who sends you a message via texting, e-mail, or social media about your tax situation
The IRS recommends that any taxpayers who think they may owe taxes and receive a suspicious phone call should contact the agency directly at 1-800-829-1040. Individuals who don’t think they have any tax payments due should report these incidents to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration by calling 1-800-366-4484 or by visiting www.tigta.gov. Anyone who has been a target of the scam is also urged to contact the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov.
For more tips to avoid tax fraud, and to ensure you are making all required personal and business tax payments, contact 1-800Accountant at 1-800-222-6868 or at www.1-800Accountant.