The IRS has been issuing a number of alerts about telephone scams. I have personally had at least two clients who have been targeted by these phone scammers. Lucky for them I was able to warn them not to call them back and the phone scammers were unable to defraud my clients. Unfortunately, thousands and thousands of other people across the US have been the victims of these extremely slick phone scammers. They have defrauded people out of millions of dollars.
How it works is the scammers call people on their cell phone and home phones claiming to be employees of the IRS. They often demand money to pay taxes and threaten people by saying if you don’t immediately pay they are going to seize their assets or have them arrested. Some may try to con you by saying that you’re due a refund. The refund is a fake lure so you’ll give them your banking or other private financial information. Don’t be fooled by these scammers.
I have personally talked to the scammers after they have reached out to my clients. They have real phone numbers and when you call them back they answer as if they were working for the IRS. They can sound convincing when you talk with them because they may even know a lot about you.
They may alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling. They use fake names and bogus IRS badge numbers. If you don’t answer, they often leave an “urgent” callback request.
The IRS has created a list of five things the scammers often do but the IRS will not do. So if any one of these five things occurs it is a sign that it is a scam.
The IRS will never:
1. Call you about taxes you owe without first mailing you an official notice.
You always receive a notice assuming the IRS has your current mailing address. You should make sure your current address is on file with the IRS if for no other reason so you know if the phone call is a scam.
2. Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the chance to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
3. Require you to use a certain payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
4. Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
5. Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement to have you arrested for not paying.
So if you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money, here’s what to do:
•If you know you owe taxes or think you might owe, call the IRS at 800-829-1040 to talk about payment options. You also may be able to set up a payment plan online at IRS.gov. You can also contact your tax professional and have them look into this for you.
•If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to believe that you do, report the incident to TIGTA at 1.800.366.4484 or at www.tigta.gov. The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) was established under the IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998 to provide independent oversight of IRS activities.
•If phone scammers target you, also contact the Federal Trade Commission at FTC.gov. Use their “ FTC Complaint Assistant ” to report the scam. Add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments of your complaint.
The IRS currently does not use unsolicited email, text messages or any social media to discuss your personal tax issues. If you would like more information on reporting tax scams, or if you have been the victim of IRS identify theft or believe that your information may have been compromised, you can contact the Wilson Tax Law Group at 714-463-4430. At Wilson Tax Law our attorneys have experience in these matters and can assist to get you through this process.