A WARNING ABOUT TELEPHONE RIP-OFFS TO GET TAXPAYER INFORMATION

TaxpayerThe IRS always sends taxpayers a written notification of any tax due via the U.S. mail. The IRS never asks for credit card, debit card or other payment information over the phone. For more information about this go to IRS’s website; and type “scam” in the search box. We had a client call to report an exceptionally belligerent phone scam last month. The caller was insulting and hostile – apparently to scare their potential victims. Victims are told that they owe money that must be paid immediately to the IRS. When unsuccessful the first time, sometimes phone scammers call back trying a new strategy. After threatening victims with jail time or driver’s license revocation, con-artists hang up and others soon call back pretending to be from the local police or department of motor vehicles, and the caller ID supports their claim.

Immigrants are frequently targeted; and are told they are subject to deportation, arrest, having their utilities shut off, or having their driver’s licenses revoked.

Other attributes of this scam include:

  • Con-Artists use fake names and IRS badge numbers. They generally use common names and surnames to identify themselves.
  • Con-Artists may be able to recite the last four digits of a victim’s Social Security number.
  • Con-Artists spoof the IRS toll-free number on caller ID to make it appear that it’s the IRS calling.
  • Con-Artists sometimes send bogus IRS emails to some victims to support their bogus calls.
  • Victims hear background noise of other calls being conducted to mimic a call site.

If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, here’s what you should do:

If you know you owe taxes or you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS at 1.800.829.1040. The IRS employees at that line can help you with a payment issue, if there really is such an issue. The Internal Revenue Service does not commence contact with taxpayers by email or telephone to request personal or financial information. This includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels. The Internal Revenue Service also does not ask for PINs, passwords or similar confidential access information for credit card, bank or other financial accounts. Recipients of suspicious emails should not open any attachments or click on any links in the message, instead, forward the e-mail to phishing@IRS.gov. If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to think that you owe any taxes (for example, you have never received a bill or the caller made some bogus threats as described above), then call and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1.800.366.4484.

Written by Peter D. Rudolph

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