Today the Internal Revenue Service announced the second entry on its annual “dirty dozen” list of the tax schemes most commonly encountered by taxpayers during tax filing season. The IRS said that aggressive phone scams where as criminals pose as IRS agents in hopes of stealing money remain a major threat to taxpayers. During filing season, the IRS generally sees a surge in scam phone calls threatening such things as arrest, deportation, and/or license revocation if the victim does not pay a phony tax bill. In a new variation, the IRS has observed that identity thieves are filing fraudulent tax returns with refunds going into the real taxpayer’s bank account, followed shortly thereafter by a threatening phone call trying to convince the taxpayer to send the money to the fraudster.
Compiled annually by the IRS, the “Dirty Dozen” lists a variety of common scams that taxpayers may encounter any time of the year, but many of these schemes peak during filing season as people prepare their tax returns or seek help from tax professionals. To help protect taxpayers, the IRS is highlighting each of these scams on twelve consecutive days to help raise awareness.
The text of today’s announcement from the IRS follows:
How Do the Scams Work?
Con artists make unsolicited calls claiming to be IRS officials. They demand that the victim pay a bogus tax bill. They convince the victim to send cash, usually through a wire transfer or a prepaid debit card or gift card. They may also leave “urgent” callback requests through phone “robo-calls,” or send a phishing email.
Many phone scams use threats to intimidate and bully a victim into paying. They may even threaten to arrest, deport or revoke the driver’s license of their victim if they don’t get the money.
Scammers often alter caller ID numbers to make it look like the IRS or another agency is calling. The callers use IRS employee titles and fake badge numbers to appear legitimate. They may use the victim’s name, address and other personal information to make the call sound official.
The IRS also reminded taxpayers today that scammers change tactics. Aggressive and threatening phone calls by criminals impersonating IRS agents remain a major threat to taxpayers, but variations of the IRS impersonation scam continue year-round and they tend to peak when scammers find prime opportunities to strike.
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) reports they have become aware of over 12,716 victims who have collectively paid over $63 million as a result of phone scams since October 2013.
Here are some things the scammers often do, but the IRS will not do. Taxpayers should remember that any one of these is a tell-tale sign of a scam.
The IRS Will Never:
– Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail a bill to any taxpayer who owes taxes.
– Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have the taxpayer arrested for not paying.
– Demand that taxes be paid without giving taxpayers the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.
– Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
– Call you about an unexpected refund.
For Taxpayers Who Don’t Owe Taxes or Don’t Think They Do:
– Do not give out any information. Hang up immediately.
– Contact TIGTA to report the call. Use their IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting web page. Alternatively, call 800-366-4484.
– Report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on FTC.gov. Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.
For Those Who Owe Taxes or Think They Do:
– Call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS workers can help.
Stay alert to scams that use the IRS as a lure. Tax scams can happen any time of year, not just at tax time. For more information visit Tax Scams and Consumer Alerts on IRS.gov.
Taxpayers have a set of fundamental rights they should be aware of when dealing with the IRS. These are the Taxpayer Bill of Rights. Explore these rights and the agency’s obligations to protect them on IRS.gov. Phone Scams Pose Serious Threat; Remain on IRS ‘Dirty Dozen’ List of Tax Scams
IRS YouTube Videos:
For more up-to-date coverage from Tax Controversy Sentinel, please subscribe by clicking here.