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Do Not Fall for Scam Calls and Emails Posing as the IRS

Scams continue to use the IRS as a lure. These tax scams take many different forms. The most common scams are phone calls and emails from thieves who pretend to be from the IRS. Scammers use the IRS name, logo, or a fake website to try and steal money from taxpayers. Identity theft can also happen with these scams.

Taxpayers need to be wary of phone calls or automated messages from someone who claims to be from the IRS. Often these criminals will say the taxpayer owes money. They also demand payment right away. Other times scammers will lie to a taxpayer and say they are due a refund. The thieves ask for bank account information over the phone. The IRS warns taxpayers not to fall for these scams.

Below are several tips that will help filers avoid becoming a scam victim.

IRS employees will NOT do the following:

  • Call demanding immediate payment. The IRS will not call taxpayers 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 that taxpayers 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 taxpayers do not owe or do not think they owe any tax, they should do the following:

  • Contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). Use TIGTA’s “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” web page to report the incident.
  • Report the incident to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on www.FTC.gov. Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments of your report.

In most cases, an IRS phishing scam is an unsolicited, bogus email that claims to come from the IRS. Criminals often use fake refunds, phony tax bills, or threats of an audit. Some emails link to sham websites that look real. The scammer’s goal is to lure victims to give up their personal and financial information. If they get what they are after, they use it to steal a victim’s money and identity. For those taxpayers who get a ‘phishing’ email, the IRS offers this advice:

  • Do not reply to the message.
  • Do not give out your personal or financial information.
  • Forward the email to phishing@irs.gov. Then delete it.
  • Do not open any attachments or click on any links. They may have malicious codes that will infect your computer.

The IRS also recently announced that taxpayers must be prepared to validate their identities when speaking with an IRS assistor. Preparation will help to avoid a repeat call at one of the IRS’s busiest times of year. Before calling about a personal tax account, taxpayers must have the following information handy:

  • Social Security Numbers and birth dates for those listed on the tax return
  • An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) for those without a Social Security Number
  • Filing status (Single, Head of Household, Married Filing Joint or Married Filing Separate)
  • A copy of the tax return in question
  • Any letters or notices received from the IRS

Deceased Taxpayer
For inquiries about deceased taxpayers, individuals must be prepared to fax the deceased taxpayer’s death certificate and either copies of the Letter of Representation approved by the court or IRS Form 56, Notice Concerning Fiduciary Relationship (for estate executors).

For more information about this article, please contact our tax professionals at taxalerts@windes.com or toll free at 844.4WINDES (844.494.6337).

 

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