You may be on vacation this summer, but tax scammers are not. According to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, or TIGTA, there have been more than 6,700 victims and $38 million lost to tax scammers in the last two and a half years. Here are a few pointers to keep you from being caught off guard by their schemes:
- Don’t be frightened into paying immediately: Scammers are experienced and will often push victims to pay immediately by threatening arrest, deportation, or revocation of various licenses. Don’t be fooled by aggressive threats, urgent requests for immediate response or payment, “robo-calls,” or fake IRS documents, numbers, or email addresses.
- Caller ID may say it’s the IRS, but it may be a scammer: Scammers are actually very intelligent and can make it appear as if they are calling from a legitimate IRS number. They may even reference accurate information about you which they gained from various resources to sound official. Even if your caller ID says IRS or another official agency and they seem to know a lot about your life or financial situation, don’t let your guard down.
- Beware of email or regular mail appearing to be official IRS contact: Scammers will utilize official IRS letterhead in order to make their documents appear legitimate. It may also appear to come from an actual IRS address or you may even be asked to send correspondence back to an actual IRS address. However, that does not necessarily mean it actually came from the IRS.
Remember, the IRS will never:
- Call you about payment or tax owed before first sending you a tax notice or bill in the mail.
- Demand payment. Official IRS correspondence will allow you to make inquires and request adjustments.
- Require you to use a specific type of tender, such as a prepaid debit card.
- Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
- Threaten arrest or other action by police or other agencies due to non-payment.
- Threaten you with a lawsuit.
If you think you have received correspondence from a tax scammer:
- Do not provide any information.
- Contact the TIGTA by using their “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” web page to report the incident.
- Contact the Federal Trade Commission by using the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on FTC.gov. Use the phrase “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.
If you are unsure of whether the correspondence is a scam or if you think you may still owe taxes, contact our office and an available accountant will be happy to help you respond.