IRS Tax Scam Alert; Protect Your Assets
A new breed of criminals is on the prey targeting taxpayer assets. With the many enhancements of technology and the use of social media, they try to trick unsuspecting victims into providing personal and financial information via email, fax, phone or text. The Internal Revenue Service has already seen an approximate 400% increase in email and malware schemes for the 2016 tax season, nationwide.
Victims are told they owe money and it must be paid immediately – either through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. If the victim refuses to cooperate they threaten the victim with arrest, deportation or suspension of their driver’s license. In many cases the caller becomes hostile and tries to intimidate the taxpayer by stating they will send the sheriff or other law enforcement, immediately to their home.
The other tactic they use is “you’re entitled to a big refund – let me just get some information from you.” They proceed to ask a series of personal questions and ins some cases the victim is more than happy to answer them thinking they’re getting a financial pay out at the end of the call.
The IRS encourages taxpayers to be vigilant against these scams that use the IRS name as a lure.
The IRS will never:
- Call to demand immediate payment, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill
- Text you
- Contact you through social media channels
- 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
Recently the IRS issued an alert to payroll and human resource professionals to beware of an emerging phishing email scheme that implies it is coming from company executives and requests personal information on employees. The email usually contains the actual name of the company as well as the name of the company COO. The ploy in this case is getting the payroll employee to release a listing of employee financial and personal information, including SSNs.
Scammers often alter caller ID numbers making them look like the IRS or another federal agency is calling. They may even use an IRS title when they introduce themselves as well as a fake badge ID number. Some tips:
Never give out personal financial information such as:
- Social Security numbers
- Credit cards
- Bank account numbers and passwords
Avoid these calls by staying calm. The key objective here is to not disclose your personal information. A few simple tips to avoid these situations:
- Have your answering machine pick up calls you don’t recognize the caller ID
- Do not open or reply to emails claiming to be from the IRS
- Do not click on any web links within the message or open attachments
For more on reporting tax scams, go to IRS.gov and type “scam” in the search box or contact Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) to report the call. Use their “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” web page. You can also call 800-366-4484.