Scammers are continuing to use the IRS as a lure and these tax scams take many different forms. The most common scams are phone calls and emails from crooks who pretend to be from the IRS. These scammers use the IRS name, logo or even a fake website to try and steal money from you. Identity theft can also happen with these scams.
You need to be very wary of phone calls or automated messages from someone who claims to be from the IRS. Often these criminals will say that you owe the IRS money and may also demand immediate payment. These scammers will lie to you and say they are owed a refund. They then ask for bank account information over the phone. The IRS is again warning taxpayers not to fall for these scams. Never provide any personal information to these thieves.
Here are several tips that will help you avoid becoming a scam victim.
IRS employees will NOT:
- Call demanding immediate payment. The IRS will not call a taxpayer if they owe tax without first sending a bill in the mail.
- Demand payment without allowing the taxpayer to question or appeal the amount owed.
- Require the taxpayer pay their taxes a certain way. For example, demand taxpayers use a prepaid debit card.
- Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
- Threaten to contact local police or similar agencies to arrest the taxpayer for non-payment of taxes.
- Threaten legal action such as a lawsuit.
If you are contacted in this way and don’t owe or think you owe any tax, you should:
Contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. Use TIGTA’s “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” webpage to report the incident.
Report the incident to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on FTC.gov. Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments of your report.
Then there are IRS phishing scams; this scam is an unsolicited, bogus email that claims to come from the IRS. Scammers often use fake refunds, phony tax bills or threats of an audit.
Some emails link to phony websites that look very 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.
For those taxpayers who 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.
- Do not open any attachments or click on any links. They may have malicious code that will infect your computer.
More information on how to report phishing or phone scams is available on IRS.gov.