Costly Tax Scams Becoming Harder to Unmask – Know the Signs

Posted on Mon, Mar 02, 2015 ©2021 Drucker & Scaccetti

This time of year many of us are thinking about our tax obligation to Uncle Sam.  On the other hand, some thieves are crafting ways to capitalize on our fears of owing money to the IRS. To combat this, the IRS continues to warn about fake emails, websites and phone calls designed to steal your money and/or identity. These scams rank high on the IRS list of “Dirty Dozen” tax scams for the 2015 filing season.  The more you know, the least likely you are to fall victim to these highly convincing scams. The Tax Warriors® wish to provide guidance on how to identify and avoid these hucksters and protect your identity and bank accounts!

 

Illegal scams can lead to significant penalties and interest and possible criminal prosecution. IRS Criminal Investigation works closely with the Department of Justice (DOJ) to shutdown scams and prosecute the criminals behind them.

 

Stop and Think Before Clicking

“Phishing” is a scam typically carried out with the help of unsolicited emails or a fake website that poses as a legitimate site to lure in potential victims and prompt them to provide valuable personal and financial information. Armed with this information, a criminal can easily commit identity or financial theft.

 

If you receive an unsolicited email that appears to be from either the IRS or an organization closely linked to the IRS, such as the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS), report it by sending it to phishing@irs.gov.

 

Keep in mind the IRS rarely initiates contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. This includes any electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels. The IRS has information online that can help you protect yourself from email scams.

 

Phone Scams Continue to Be a Serious and Growing Threat

The IRS has seen a surge of phone scams in recent months as scam artists threaten police arrest, deportation, license revocation and other things. Scammers can alter caller ID numbers to make it look like the IRS is calling. They use fake names and bogus IRS badge numbers. They often leave "urgent" callback requests. Scammers have even impersonated agents from IRS Criminal Investigation.

 

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration has received reports of roughly 290,000 contacts since October 2013 and has learned of nearly 3,000 victims who have collectively paid over $14 million because of the scam, in which individuals make unsolicited calls to taxpayers fraudulently claiming to be IRS officials and demanding that they send them cash via prepaid debit cards.

 

Protect Yourself

As telephone scams continue across the country, the IRS recently put out a new YouTube video with a renewed warning to taxpayers not to be fooled by imposters posing as tax agency representatives. The new Tax Scams video describes basic tips to help protect taxpayers from tax scams.

 

The IRS reminds people they can know pretty easily when a supposed IRS caller is a fake. Here are five things the scammers often do but the IRS will not do. Any of these five things is a tell-tale sign of a scam.

 

The IRS will never:

  1. Call to demand immediate payment, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.
  2. Demand you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
  3. Require you to use a specific 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 groups to have you arrested for not paying.

If you suspect you’ve been targeted by a tax scam, contact your tax advisor immediately for the best way to address the issue.

 

Don’t forget, the IRS does not use email, text messages or any social media to discuss your personal tax issue involving bills or refunds. For more information on reporting tax scams, go to www.irs.gov and type “scam” in the search box.

Topics: fraud, Internet, Scam, phone, email, identity theft, Dirty dozen, Tax, IRS

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