New Twist on an Old Scam

IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center- Image of digital earth- cell phone

IRS Warns of Crooks Directing Taxpayers to IRS.gov to “Verify” Calls.

IRS scams are like cockroaches.

You kill all you find, but there are more hiding somewhere else.

These cockroaches, though, keep evolving to outsmart even the wiliest taxpayer.

What the Scammers Are Doing Now

The latest phone scam still operates the same way as in the past.

Criminals call you, claiming to be from a local IRS office. They demand immediate payment for a tax bill… a tax bill that doesn’t exist.

Sound familiar? We thought so.

Why You Can No Longer Trust Caller ID: Criminals Can Fake Any Number

Here’s the twist: These scammers use telephone numbers that “mimic” IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers (TACs).

They’ve programmed their computers to display the IRS office number to appear on your caller ID. So it looks like a legitimate call.

It’s not just the local tax office number they are spoofing, either. They can put any phone number into their computers and have it come up on your screen. From your local sheriff to the Department of Motor Vehicles, thieves can mimic an organization they know you’ll think is legitimate.

If you (rightly) question this demand for a tax payment, they direct you to the IRS.gov site to verify the phone number. The criminals hang up and call back again, spoofing the IRS office, demanding immediate payment on a debit card.

To be forewarned is to be forearmed

It’s helpful to know that the IRS will never call you to demand that you pay an overdue tax bill. They typically initiate contact by regular mail, the kind delivered by the USPS.

Under very limited circumstances the IRS may call you or show up at your home or business. For example, if you have an overdue tax bill, a delinquent tax return or employment tax payment. They may also tour a business as part of an audit or during criminal investigations. Even so, you will generally receive several letters first in the mail.

So how do you know then that it’s not the IRS? The IRS does not:

  • Insist that you use a certain payment method. These thieves are demanding you use a debit card. In some cases, it may be a gift card or a wire transfer. A gift card is like cash, and it’s a quick and convenient way for them to get your money that also happens to be untraceable. Wire transfers via Western Union and MoneyGram are a quick way to get your money. The criminals simply walk into any of these companies’ offices to pick up the funds.
  • Ask for your debit or credit card numbers over the phone. If you owe taxes, payments are made to the United States Treasury and can be made online at the IRS website. 
  • Demand payment for tax bills that you don’t have the opportunity to question or appeal.
  • Threaten to have law enforcement or immigration officers arrest you for non-payment. The IRS cannot revoke your immigration status or your drivers’ or business licenses. A scam artist will readily threaten these things to get you to pay now. However, the IRS can cancel your passport if you have significant past due tax debts.

Have you received a phony call from someone claiming to be with the IRS? Please report it to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. You can also email the IRS at phishing@irs.gov. Use the subject line “IRS Phone Scam.”
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Jeffrey Schneider, EA, CTRS, NTPI Fellow has the knowledge and expertise to help you reach a favorable outcome with the IRS. He is the head honcho at SFS Tax & Accounting Services as well as the Enrolled Agent and Certified Tax Resolution Specialist for SFS Tax Problem Solutions.
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Now What? I Got A Tax Notice From The IRS. Help! Defining and deconstructing the scary and confusing letters that land in your mailbox. Jeff defines and deconstructs the scary and confusing letters in a fashion that mixes attention to detail with humor and an intricate clarification of what is what in the world of the IRS.

The book is available in paperback and ebook on https://Amazon.com
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