In all likelihood, there is a very good possibility that you’ve recently received a phone call (or know someone that has) from someone claiming to be from the IRS. Several of us at Shred360 have recently received these calls as well! And if you haven’t yet, the call could be coming to you soon… If you’re not prepared, these calls can be very convincing! The IRS has seen a surge of these phone scams in recent days and weeks, and especially during the most recent tax season.
‘Taxpayers across the nation face a deluge of these aggressive phone scams. Don’t be fooled by callers pretending to be from the IRS in an attempt to steal your money,’ said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. ‘We continue to say if you are surprised to be hearing from us, then you’re not hearing from us.’ In other words, if you do, in fact, owe money to the IRS, you’re already well aware of this fact and have likely already received other communications from them through the mail (ie, delinquent tax notices, bills, etc.).
Think people are smart enough to recognize this scam? Wonder how in the world someone could fall for this? Think again… This January, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) announced that they have received reports of nearly 900,000 contacts since October 2013. Folks, that’s almost a million! And they are aware of over 5,000 victims that collectively have paid over $26.5 million to scammers. And who knows how many they don’t know about! This is real, and the scammers are getting real money…from real people just like you and me.
So…how do you protect yourself?
Scammers make unsolicited calls claiming to be IRS officials. They demand that the victim pay a phony tax bill. They con the victim into sending cash, usually through a prepaid debit card or wire transfer. They may also leave ‘urgent’ callback requests through phone ‘robo-calls’ or via an email (that appears 100% legitimate). These con artists can often alter Caller ID numbers to make it look like the IRS or another agency is calling. They will use IRS titles and fake badge numbers to validate themselves. They may even use your name, address and other personal information to sound more official.
Here are five things that the scammers often do but the IRS will NEVER do. Any one of these is a huge red flag to you…
- Call to demand immediate payment, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill
- Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe
- Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card
- Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone
- Threaten to bring in local police or other law enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying
If you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money, here’s what you should do…
If you don’t owe taxes, or have no reason to think that you do:
- Do not give out any information! Hang up immediately.
- Contact TIGTA to report the call. You can do that HERE or you can also call 800-366-4484.
- Report it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Click HERE on FTC.gov and add ‘IRS Telephone Scam’ in the notes.
If you know you owe, or think you may owe tax:
- Call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS workers can assist you.