According to the US Treasury, thousands of Americans have been tricked out of over $1 Million by con artists pretending to be IRS agents demanding tax payments. J. Russell George, the Treasury inspector general for tax administration, says that “This is the largest scam of its kind that we have ever seen” citing over 20,000 complaints that the agency has received from victims in all 50 states.
This scam has been especially effective and hard for victims to detect because the perpetrators use spoofed caller identification to make it appear as if they are really calling from the IRS. They also know the last four digits of each victim’s social security number. To add more credibility to the scam, victims will often receive a follow-up call that appears to be from their state’s DMV if the perpetrators threatened to have the victim’s driver’s license suspended or revoked. There may even be a fake call from someone claiming to be with the police department. The scammers also send follow-up emails that appear to be signed by real IRS officials, even mimicking the official IRS insignia.
The IRS reports that an increasing number of individuals have been targeted by these scammers, with a greater increase occurring around tax time. Individuals should be aware that the IRS will contact them by U.S. mail if they owe any taxes, not by email or through texts or social media sites. The IRS will never ask for payments to be made through a wire transfer or by debt card, pre-paid or otherwise. They will never ask you to provide your credit card information over the phone, and they will never ask for your personal information by email, through text messages or on social media. George states, “If someone unexpectedly calls claiming to be from the IRS and uses threatening language if you don’t pay immediately, that is a sign that it is not the IRS calling.”
If you do receive a call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, there are a few things you can do to ensure that you’re not taken in by false claims:
- If you know that you owe federal taxes or if you’re unsure whether you owe any federal taxes, immediately hang up and call the IRS to check for yourself. They can be reached directly at 1-800-829-1040.
- If you know that you don’t owe any taxes, you should immediately call the Treasury inspector general for tax administration at 1-800-366-4484 to report the incident. You should also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. They can be reached by going online to www.FTC.gov. Make sure to add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments when you make your complaint.
- If you receive an email that’s supposedly from the IRS, don’t open an attachments that are included or click on any of the links that have been provided. Send the email directly to email@example.com.
Unfortunately scammers have always found a way to full the vulnerable and cheat them out for millions of dollars. A legit debt collector, especially one from the IRS will never threaten to arrest you.
They will also have all the proper business licenses and be equipped with a collection agency merchant account to process all credit card payments legitimately if money is owed.
Taxpayers should also make themselves aware of other identified scams to be on the lookout for. A list of identified tax scams can be found on the IRS website at www.irs.gov.
About the Author:
Blair Thomas is the co-founder of award winning high risk credit card processing company eMerchantbroker.com and a collection agency expert. He has 10+ years of experience in the electronic payments industry, managing several successful agent offices and registered ISO’s. He enjoys dining with his family and lives with his 2 dogs Cooper and Frank in Los Angeles. You can connect with Blair on Google + .