IRS Scams on the Rise: Don’t be Fooled
Each year thousands of Americans across the country fall prey to scammers claiming to be from the IRS. Scams come in the form of either a phone call, a letter, or an email sent claiming you owe the IRS an existing debt. Unfortunately, millions of dollars is made each year by these phony scams. In order to help you avoid being deceived by these scammers, the IRS has published a few tips on its website on how to detect if it is a scam or not.
Signs It is a Scam as Outlined by IRS:
- Demanding Payment
- Calling Without First Mailing a Bill
- Demanding Payment without Reasonable Time to Respond or Appeal
- Requesting Credit Card Information over the Phone or Email
- Threats of Jail or Prosecution If Payments Aren’t Made
- Require Special Payment Method for Taxes
If you receive an email or phone call from the ‘IRS’ demanding payment immediately, you are being duped. Remember the IRS will always first send a bill in the mail, and will never demand immediate payment over the phone. Some scammers are very good at doing their homework on a caller, and may even recite a list of your personal information to trick you. Even if this is the case, hang up and call the IRS directly. The IRS will never request credit card information over the phone, especially in a way where the caller is pressured to pay immediately on the phone. Be leery to give anyone your personal credit card information over the telephone, as many are fraudulent requests. If it seems fishy to you, it probably is. According the IRS website, there have been 736,000 scams reported since October of 2013 with more than 23 million dollars stolen from victims.
Making Threats of Legal Action or Punishment
Every law-abiding citizen rightfully would be fearful of threats of legal action or potential jail time. Scammers especially use this as a fear tactic, because they know it works. When individuals are threatened with jail time, police involvement, prosecution, license revocation, deportation, scholarship cancellation, etc., individuals feel the mounting pressure to comply. Never feel pressured to give a payment over the phone, especially when the other party is insisting and hasty to get the payment. It should be a dead giveaway the phone call is fraudulent when you can sense urgency in receiving payment. If you are unsure whether or not the call is fraudulent, personally get in touch with the IRS yourself, either via website or calling numbers you know are valid.
Creating Fraudulent Documents, Phone Numbers, Email Accounts
Unfortunately each year scammers refine their fraudulent techniques to make them seem more official. For example, scammers have previously been known to falsify mail documents with the official letterhead used by the IRS. Additionally, scammers may fake phone calls and even trick callers by using a believable Caller ID. Email letterheads or URL addresses have also been falsely created to appear as if it were the IRS. Anytime doubts are raised about the legitimacy of these phone calls, emails, or letters in the mail, stop and contact the IRS directly for confirmation. The offical website URL for the IRS is irs.gov, so watch out for any URL addresses such as irs.com, irs.net, irs.org,etc.
Verify Payment & File Report
Generally speaking if you know you have paid your taxes you have nothing to worry about. In that case, be sure to file a report with the IRS about the fraud. Reports can be submited to at 1.800.366.4484 or at www.tigta.gov. If you are unsure whether or not you owe the IRS money, it doesn’t hurt to verify your status with the IRS directly. Call the IRS at 1.800.829.1040. Tax service professionals are also available to help you file taxes or determine if requests from the IRS are phony.