One of our clients received a call this week from the IRS, it certainly rattled his cheerful, mid-summer mood, but was it really the IRS calling or a scam? The recorded phone message said that the caller was from the IRS, that he owed them money, and that he should pay immediately or face legal action. That’s when he wisely hung up.
This is one of the latest of a series of fear mongering “phishing” scams where someone calls to not just request, but to demand money immediately from the caller. “Phishing” is a scam typically carried out through phone calls, unsolicited email and/or websites that look and sound legitimate to try to lure unsuspecting victims to provide personal and financial information.
This article will explain what the IRS does and does not do when it contacts you. Consider it as an alert about the latest IRS scams.
Beware: What The Callers May Say
According to the IRS website, the callers may impersonate an IRS agent to demand payment. One recent scam –– especially aimed at students –– is for a non-existent “Federal Student Tax.”
IRS scams impersonators may also say that you owe back taxes for thousands of dollars, that you owe a tax bill for a specific amount within a deadline of a day or two, or other “pay-me-now” tactics.
If you don’t agree to pay immediately, these scam artists may threaten, bully, or otherwise try to intimidate you into paying a tax bill by saying you may be arrested, deported, revoke your driver’s license, or report you to the local police.
“These scams and schemes continue to evolve nationwide,” says IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, “and now they’re trying to trick students. Taxpayers should remain vigilant and not fall prey to these aggressive calls demanding immediate payment of a tax supposedly owed.”
Beware: How The IRS Scams May Want You to Pay
During 2016, some of the ways the impersonators have asked taxpayers to pay include:
- Demanding immediate tax payment on an iTunes gift card
- Soliciting W-2 information from payroll and human resources professionals
- “Verifying” your specific tax return information over the phone
- Pretending that they are from the tax preparation industry
Good Advice: What The IRS Will Never Do
The Internal Revenue Service states that it would never:
- Call a taxpayer to demand immediate payment over the phone
- Call you about taxes owed without first having mailed you a letter with a bill and an explanation
- Threaten to immediately bring in the local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying your taxes
- Demand that you pay taxes without offering you the opportunity to question what they’re for
- Ask to you pay without appealing the amount they say you owe
- Require that you use a prepaid debit card or other specific payment methods for your taxes
- Ask you for your secure credit or debit card numbers over the phone
What to do: If You’re Called, Hang Up.
If you happen to be the recipient of the latest IRS Scam, the IRS recommends that you hang up immediately, then contact TIGTA (the Treasure Inspector General for Tax Administration) at 800-366-4484. You can also report this phishing tactic to the Federal Trade Commission and add “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.
Finally, if you have questions about taxes or what the IRS requires, you can always give me a call at the office at (415) 455-9455.
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