It is tax preparation season and the scammers our there know that taxes are weighing heavy on the minds of many taxpayers. The scammers are relying on the fact that you are thinking about taxes and the IRS right now.
Yesterday the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) is warning all taxpayers to beware of phone calls from individuals who claim to represent the Internal Revenue Service, but in reality are trying to defraud you, in what it is saying is the largest ever scam it has seen to-date.
“This is the largest scam of its kind that we have ever seen,” said TIGTA Inspector General J. Russell George in a statement. He commented that TIGTA has thus far received reports of over 20,000 contacts and is aware of thousands of victims who have collectively paid over $1 million (and climbing) as a result of the scam.
“The increasing number of people receiving these unsolicited calls from individuals who fraudulently claim to represent the IRS is alarming,” said George. “At all times, and particularly during the tax filing season, we want to make sure that innocent taxpayers are alert to this scam so they are not harmed by these criminals. Do not become a victim.”
It is rare that the IRS will first call a taxpayer to collect on a tax debt. There is usually many rounds of automated letters and more personalized letters that will arrive first. This is particularly true for individual taxpayers.
The truth, TIGTA pointed out, is the IRS usually first contacts people by mail—not by phone—about unpaid taxes. The IRS also won’t ask for payment using a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer, and the agency won’t ask for a credit card number over the phone.
“If someone unexpectedly calls claiming to be from the IRS and uses threatening language if you don’t pay immediately, that is a sign that it really isn’t the IRS calling,” said George.
The callers who commit this fraud typically use common names and fake IRS badge numbers. The scammers also may even know the last four digits of your Social Security Number and make the caller ID information appear as if the IRS is calling to make their scam even more convincing. They may also ask for email address to send bogus IRS e-mails to support their scam, and call a second time claiming to be the policy or department of motor vehicles, and the caller ID again supports their claim. The scams like this just go on and on unfortunately.
While we hope you never receive one of these calls, here is what you should do if you receive a call from someone claiming to be with the IRS asking for a payment. If you owe federal taxes, or think you may owe taxes, immediately end the call and place your own call to the IRS at 800-829-1040. The IRS agents on that line can help you with your payment questions and tell you if in fact you owe any money. Do be sure to tell them what just occurred. If you don't owe taxes, call and report the incident to TIGTA at 800-366-4484 right away.
Or better yet, give our office a call and tell us of your concern and that you received one of these calls. Whether you are a client of ours or not we are more than happy to help you determine if there is an legitamcy to the call or situation in which you find yourself. With 30 years of dealing with these types of matters we can size up your situation and offer you advice in no time at all. You can call us toll-free at 888-758-5966.
We would be honored to chat with you about your accounting, tax and finances — whether personal or business. During our meeting we will discuss your concerns and questions and let you know how we can help you and our costs. Our consultations are not just a sales pitch. We will offer you solid ideas and solutions to help you right off the bat. To schedule a consultation at a time convenient for you, call us at any of our offices or call toll-free (888) 758-5966 or click here to email me.
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