Articles

IRS Encourages Vigilance to Avoid Potential Scams

Posted on: May 18, 2017


Unsolicited Telephone Calls/Emails

There have been numerous reports about taxpayers who have received unsolicited telephone calls from individuals demanding payment while fraudulently claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Recently, the IRS issued a warning:

Taxpayers should remember their first contact with the IRS will not be a call from out of the blue, but through official correspondence sent through the mail. A big red flag for these scams are angry, threatening calls from people who say they are from the IRS and urging immediate payment. This is not how the IRS operates. People should hang up immediately and contact the IRS.


Also, note that the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email. If you receive a message claiming to come from the IRS:

  • Do not open the message.
  • Do not open any attachments.
  • Do not click on any links.

Back-to-School Scams

The IRS also recently warned taxpayers against telephone scammers targeting students and parents during the back-to-school season and demanding payments for non-existent taxes, such as the “Federal Student Tax.”

People should be on the lookout for IRS impersonators calling students and demanding that they wire money immediately to pay a fake “federal student tax.” If the person does not comply, the scammer becomes aggressive and threatens to report the student to the police to be arrested. As schools around the nation prepare to re-open, it is important for taxpayers to be particularly aware of this scheme going after students and parents.

New Tactics

Scammers are constantly identifying new tactics to carry out their crimes in new and unsuspecting ways. This year, the IRS has seen scammers use a variety of schemes to fool taxpayers into paying money or giving up personal information. Some of these include:

  • Altering the caller ID on incoming phone calls in a “spoofing” attempt to make it seem like the IRS, the local police or another agency is calling.
  • Imitating software providers to trick tax professionals — see IR-2016-103.
  • Demanding fake tax payments using iTunes gift cards — see IR-2016-99.
  • Soliciting W-2 information from payroll and human resources professionals — see IR-2016-34.
  • “Verifying” tax return information over the phone — see IR-2016-40.
  • Pretending to be from the tax preparation industry — see IR-2016-28.

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 you a bill if you owe any taxes.
  • Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying. Taxpayers usually receive prior notification of IRS enforcement action involving IRS tax liens or levies.
  • Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
  • Ask for credit card, debit card of prepaid card information over the phone.

What To Do

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

  • Do not give out any information. Hang up immediately.
  • Search the web for telephone numbers scammers leave in your voicemail asking you to call back. Some of the phone numbers may be published online and linked to criminal activity.
  • Contact TIGTA to report the call. Use their “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” web page or 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 think you might owe taxes, call the IRS directly at 800-829-1040.

Stay informed of the latest phishing and tax scams by visiting the IRS website - https://www.irs.gov/