Every year thousands of U.S. citizens are targeted by fraudulent IRS tax scams in an effort to cheat them out of their financial assets. As the 2013 tax season approaches, phone related scams are on the rise. In almost every state, taxpayers are receiving phone calls from scammers claiming to be IRS officials requesting payment of back taxes as well as personal and financial data which can later be used in committing identity theft.
Types of Phone Scams
IRS phone scams come in various forms. The following are but a few.
Back Taxes Scam: Immigrant taxpayers are often the victims of fraudulent IRS phone calls demanding payment of back taxes. The caller identifies himself as an IRS official and informs victims they owe the government back taxes which should be paid immediately through wire transfer or pre-loaded debit cards. Victims who challenge the caller or refuse payment are threatened to be arrested, deported or have their driver’s license revoked.
Paper Check Scam: In this scam, victims receive a fraudulent phone call from the IRS claiming that a check was issued to the victim but not cashed. The caller then asks the victim to confirm his bank account info over the phone.
Rebate Scam: Seniors are generally the target of this phone scam in which they are promised a hefty rebate for prompt filing of their taxes. Impersonating an IRS official, the caller simply asks the victim for his bank account number in order to direct deposit his rebate check.
IRS phone scams appear real for many reasons. The caller may know you by name and be able to recite the latter part of your Social Security number. Scammers may also use caller ID to make it seem like the IRS is actually calling. They may even follow up on phone calls with emails in an attempt to verify their status. In some cases, victims will receive a second phone call in which the caller identifies himself as a police officer or DMV official supporting the fake IRS claim.
To be Forewarned is to be Forearmed
By exposing the methods used by tax scammers, the IRS hopes to save innocent taxpayers from becoming victims of this criminal activity. In statements made by true IRS officials, taxpayers are warned to never disclose personal or financial information over the phone to individuals claiming to be IRS employees. According to IRS officials, the department never asks taxpayers for their personal or bank information by email or phone. Bank details are only collected via tax returns at the discretion of individual taxpayers.
In regards to unpaid taxes, the IRS policy is to contact individuals by mail as opposed to phone or email communications. The agency also never requests payment through transfer or debit card nor asks for credit card info over the phone.
Individuals receiving fraudulent IRS phone calls should report the episode to the office of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at the following number: 1-800-366-4484. Victims can also contact the Federal Trade Commission at FTC.gov with reference to “IRS Phone Scam.”
By learning more about IRS procedures and protocol, you can protect yourself and your family from being ripped off in an IRS phone or email scam. When in doubt, you can verify alleged phone or email communications from the IRS by calling this toll free number: 1-800-829-1040.