No matter whether we talk about Dallas, Texas or Washington DC, every year, thousands of American taxpayers are conned by crooks masquerading as IRS agents demanding tax payments. The Treasury Inspector General for Taxpayer Administration (TIGTA) has so far received more than 20,000 fraud complaints in which taxpayers lost more than $1 million. Numerous phone scams have also hit unsuspecting taxpayers in almost every state in America. In these scams, an individual makes a phone call to a taxpayer, claiming to be an IRS official and demanding tax payments. The calls are mostly made during the tax filing season.
Considering the gravity of phone scams and the surge in such unsolicited phone calls, the TIGTA has issued a scam alert warning taxpayers about such fraudulent activities. Let’s delve deeper into the problem.
Phone Scam: How it Works?
A caller claiming to be an IRS official tells a vulnerable taxpayer that they owe the department a certain amount in unpaid taxes that they must pay by using a debit card or wire transfer. Those who refuse to play ball get threatened with deportation, arrest, or loss of business, or driver’s license, which explains the increasing number of people falling prey to such crooks.
What You Must Know?
Before contacting people about their tax debts by phone, the IRS first sends notification by mail. The department also never asks for prepaid debit card payments or wire transfers in settling tax liabilities, nor will never they ask you to provide your credit card credentials over the phone. If someone calls you claiming to be an IRS official and asking for your credit card details and threatening you to pay immediately, it is fraudulent.
Typical Patterns in Scam Phone Calls
Scammers who call you in the name of the IRS often:
- Use common names and may also share bogus IRS badge numbers
- Usually know the last four digits of your social security number
- Encrypt caller ID to appear as if someone from the IRS is making the call
- Send phony IRS emails to convince you
Sharpen your skills and listen to your instincts. If you feel the caller is not genuine, disconnect the call immediately and discuss the call with a Dallas tax attorney.
Keeping Your Guard Up
Here’s what to do to avoid being a victim of phone scams:
- If you owe taxes and receive a phone call asking for the payment, the first thing you should do is hang up and call the IRS at 800-829-1040.
- If you don’t owe any taxes and still receive a call asking for payment, call and report the incident to TIGTA at 800-366-4484.
In addition, you can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission on their website: www.FTC.gov. Make sure you add ‘IRS phone scam’ in the comment section of your complaint.
The Bottom Line
US taxpayers need to watch out for the various phone and email scams that are perpetrated in the name of the IRS. In addition to tax fraud, there are various other related and unrelated scams you should be aware of, such as lottery sweepstakes. Keep important IRS contact numbers handy and if you suspect any caller, contact the hotline immediately. Forward suspicious emails to email@example.com to verify the authenticity of the communication, and do not open or click on any link in those emails. Keep these simple rules in mind to avoid being victim to such scams.