With a new tax season just ahead, the IRS warns that tax scams are on the rise and taxpayers should be on the lookout for scams involving phone calls, letters and emails.
According to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), phone scams are the most frequent approach to unwary taxpayers, with more than 600,000 reported contacts since October 2013 and nearly 4,000 victims who lost a total of $20 million as a result of tax scams. Those most targeted by scammers posing as IRS agents are older Americans, newly arrived immigrants and those with poor English language skills.
These criminals use a variety of ruses in phone calls, including fake names, titles and badge numbers to get your name, address and other details about your life which they can use to steal your money. They often threaten police arrest, deportation, license revocation or other unpleasant things; use fake IRS badge numbers; make caller ID appear as if the IRS is calling; demand immediate payment over the phone and threaten to have you arrested for not paying; demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe, and ask for credit or debit card numbers. They even copy the official IRS letterhead to use in email or regular mail scams.
All of the above are things the IRS would never do. And you should know that. The same holds true for email scams. The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email or request personal information. The IRS does not ask for PINs, passwords or similar confidential access information for credit card, bank or other financial accounts via email or any other means.
If you receive a suspicious email, do not open any attachments or click on any links contained in the message. Instead, forward the email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you think you are the target of an IRS impersonation scam, here's what you should do:
- If you actually do owe taxes, call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040. IRS workers can help you with a payment issue.
- If you don't owe taxes, you can report the incident to the TIGTA at 1-800-366-4484.
- If you have been targeted by any scam, contact the Federal Trade Commission and use their "FTC Complaint Assistant" at FTC.gov.