It is tax time and tax scams are in the air. What does this mean? Scammers are taking advantage of your trust and trying to get their hands on your hard-earned money. The scams are not new, they go on every year and throughout the year, but are more prevalent during the spring tax season.
Most of these calls come in the form of robocalls (automated calls), but some come from phishing emails. The IRS warns consumers not to fall victim to these scams that intend to steal your money and/or identity. Posing as IRS officials, these scam artists trick victims out of their money and personal information every year. These unsolicited calls and emails come from thieves claiming to be IRS officials. The calls demand bogus tax payments, some even with threats of arrest, deportation, or license revocation if the money is not paid.
Some victims, when threatened, comply sending cash, most of the time through wire transfer or prepaid debit card. Some urge the intended victim to call back through robocalls in order to weed out those who may have already caught wind to their scam. These calls may look legitimate, with caller ID showing that the call is coming from the IRS or another agency, this is called caller ID spoofing. They are well-versed on IRS verbiage and use titles and badge numbers to appear to be official. Some will have the victim’s name, address, and other personal information.
New tricks are developed often as consumers learn of the old ones. “ Some schemes provide an actual IRS address where they tell the victim to mail a receipt for the payment they make. Others use emails that contain a fake IRS document with a phone number or an email address for a reply,” IRS officials warned. “These scams often use official IRS letterhead in emails or regular mail that they send to their victims.”
Over $23 million have been stolen from over 4500 victims to date, and the number is growing. The IRS reminds customers that they will not ever call you if you owe taxes without first sending you a bill by mail. The IRS always gives you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed, the scam artists obviously will not. Also, the IRS will not demand payment in a certain way, including prepaid debit cards and wire transfers. These brazen thieves will ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone, they will also threaten arrest for not paying.
If you do not owe taxes and have no reason to believe that you do, hang up before giving any information. You should contact the TIGTA to report the call, Use their “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” web page. You can also call 800-366-4484. You should also report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on FTC.gov. Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes. If you think that you may owe taxes, call the IRS at (800)829-1040
“Phone scams first tried to sting older people, new immigrants to the U.S. and those who speak English as a second language,” IRS officials explained. “Now the crooks try to swindle just about anyone. And they’ve ripped-off people in every state in the nation.”
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