It's tax time — and scam time

IRS issues warning about bogus collectors
2014-04-14T19:39:00Z 2014-04-14T19:52:09Z It's tax time — and scam time Muscatine Journal
April 14, 2014 7:39 pm

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The IRS is renewing its call for vigilance as a tax scam makes a comeback.

On Monday, the IRS renewed its October 2013 warning about a pervasive phone scam that continues to target people across the nation, including recent immigrants.

According to a news release from the IRS, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration called it the largest scam of its kind. As of March 20, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration reported that it has received reports of over 20,000 contacts related to this scam. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration also stated that thousands of victims have paid over $1 million to fraudsters claiming to be from the IRS.

In this scam, the thief poses as the IRS and makes an unsolicited call to their target. The caller tells the victim they owe taxes to the IRS. They demand that the victim pay the money immediately with a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. The caller often threatens the victim with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license. In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting.

Thieves who run this scam often:

  • Use common names and fake IRS badge numbers.
  • Know the last four digits of the victim’s Social Security Number.
  • Make caller ID appear as if the IRS is calling.
  • Send bogus IRS e-mails to support the bogus calls.
  • Call a second time claiming to be the police or department of motor vehicles. The caller ID again appears to support their claim.

If you get a call from someone who claims to be with the IRS asking you to pay back taxes, here’s what you should do:

  • If you owe, or think you might owe federal taxes, hang up and call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS workers can help you with your payment questions.
  • If you don’t owe taxes, call and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484.
  • You can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at FTC.gov. Add "IRS Telephone Scam" to the comments in your complaint.

The IRS offers the following tips to avoid becoming the victim of a tax scam:

  • Be wary of any unexpected phone or email communication allegedly from the IRS.
  • Don’t fall for phone and phishing email scams that use the IRS as a lure. Thieves often pose as the IRS using a bogus refund or warnings to pay past-due taxes.
  • The IRS usually first contacts people by mail – not by phone – about unpaid taxes.
  • The IRS won’t ask for payment using a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer. The IRS also won’t ask for a credit card number over the phone.
  • The IRS doesn’t initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. This includes any type of e-communication, such as text messages and social media channels.
  • The IRS doesn’t ask for PINs, passwords or similar confidential information for credit card, bank or other accounts.

For more information, go to IRS.gov.

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