Beware of IRS Impersonations and Tax Scams
If you get a call from the "IRS" threatening you with lawsuits or jail unless you pay up immediately ... Guess what? It's a scam. IRS impersonation and tax scams by phone, email, postal mail and text are ongoing. Criminals use more and more creative ploys to trick taxpayers and tax preparers. Don't be a victim.
The IRS doesn't initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text message or social media channels to request personal or financial information. This includes requests for PIN numbers, passwords or similar access information for credit cards, banks or other financial accounts.
Here are five things the scammers often do but the IRS will not do. Any one of these five things is a tell-tale sign of a scam.
The IRS will never:
- Call to demand immediate payment, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.
- Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
- Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
- Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
- Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money, here's what you should do:
If you don't owe taxes, or have no reason to think that you do:
- Do not give out any information. Hang up immediately.
- Contact TIGTA to report the call. Use their "IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting" web page. You can also 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.
- If you know you owe, or think you may owe tax:
- Call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS workers can help you.
A phishing scam is an unsolicited, bogus email that claims to come from the IRS, your bank, your credit card company, or your employer. They often use fake refunds, phony tax bills, threats of an audit or request personal or financial information. Some emails link to sham websites that look real. The scammers' goal is to lure victims to give up their personal and financial information. If they get what they're after, they use it to steal a victim's money and their identity.
If you get a 'phishing' email, the IRS offers this advice:
- Don't reply to the message.
- Don't give out your personal or financial information.
- Forward the email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Then delete it.
- Don't open any attachments or click on any links. They may have malicious code that will infect your computer.
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, visit "Tax Scams and Consumer Alerts" on IRS.gov.
Please let us know if you have questions concerning these IRS Tax Scams or any other tax compliance or planning issues.
Paul J. Beckert MBA, CPA
Pinnacle Business Solutions
Note: The information contained in this material represents a general overview of tax regulations and should not be relied upon without an independent, professional analysis of how any of these provisions apply to a specific situation.
Data Source: Internal Revenue Service