Mar 17, 2017
When the IRS Calls…Be Sure It’s Really the IRS
Tax season is scary enough for most people. Once that return is filed and out the door, most Americans would prefer to never think of it again. That sentiment is what a new class of scam artists is counting on.
The Treasury Inspector General for Taxpayer Administration reports that more crooks are posing as IRS tax collectors than ever before, and they have taken to calling many folks at random. They use common names and bogus badge numbers to bolster their credibility. They may use your name and the last four digits of your Social Security number, which they likely obtained from a credit check or an information clearing house. They will claim you owe a large, specific amount of money. This strategy makes the con more believable. You would realize $5,000 sounds made up, but $4,987 must be right. They will insist that if you don’t pay immediately, the sheriff in your state or county will arrest you. The con artists expect to scare you.
There are a few key ways to tell if the contact you’ve received is legitimate. Watch for these signs:
1.) The IRS always makes first contact with people via U.S. mail. This is so there are always accurate records of what was said to whom and when. Your first notification that you have an unpaid tax debt will not be a phone call.
2.) The IRS will never ask for a wire transfer of funds or a prepaid debit card. It’s rare that tax repayment will use a credit card. Most of the time, this process takes place through wage garnishment. In no case should you send cash to someone you have never met.
3.) If you believe you may have a tax problem, don’t panic. Call the IRS taxpayer help line at 800-829-1040.
4.) If you receive a call like the one described above or something similar, report it. You can call the Treasury Inspector General’s scam line at 800-366-4484. If you receive an email, you can forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org.