In January 2016, the government reported that from October 2013 it received almost 900,000 complaints from taxpayers concerning scammers calling and threatening them about delinquent federal taxes. The government claimed that more than 5,000 taxpayers paid more than $26 million to these scammers as a result of these telephone scams. Moreover, IRS also reported an increase in IRS phishing schemes of approximately 400% this year.
Now, IRS warns of a new telephone scam being reported by taxpayers. The scammers pretend to be IRS employees. The scammers represent that they are reviewing and verifying the taxpayer’s federal tax returns. The scam artists claim they only need to verify a few details to process the tax return. The scammer asks the taxpayer to verify their social security number, and, personal financial information like bank account numbers or credit cards numbers.
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen has stated that these scams continue to change and develop with the attempt to catch taxpayers off guard during the current tax season. Commissioner Koskinen has stated “don’t be fooled. The IRS won’t be calling you out of the blue asking you to verify your personal tax information or aggressively threatening you to make an immediate payment.”
IRS reminds taxpayers to be vigilant and safeguard against all scams and con games that seem to constantly change.
In 2015, IRS and numerous states collectively came together launching a public awareness campaign called “Taxes. Security. Together” warning taxpayers of the importance to maintain online security and avoid answering anything on the telephone to unknown scam artists pretending to work for IRS.
“These schemes touch people in every part of the country and in every walk of life,” said Koskinen. “It’s a growing list of people who’ve encountered these. I’ve even gotten these calls myself.”
IRS will never:
- Call and demand immediate payment, nor will IRS call you about taxes owed without first having mailed a bill.
- Never demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount you owe.
- Never require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
- Never ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
- Never threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
If you get a phone call from someone pretending to be from IRS and asking for money, here’s what you should do:
If you don’t owe taxes, or have no reason to think you do:
- Do not give out any information. Hang up immediately.
- Contact TIGTA to report the call. Use their “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” web page. You can also call 800-366-4484.
- Report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on FTC.gov. Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.
If you know you owe, or think you may owe tax:
- Call the IRS at 800-829-1040. Real IRS employees will assist.
Stay alert to scams that use the IRS as a lure. Tax scams can happen any time of year, not just at tax time. For more, visit “Tax Scams and Consumer Alerts” on IRS.gov.
So, if someone pretending to be from IRS contacts you by telephone or online and asks you to verify your social security number, bank account numbers, and credit card numbers, do not answer them. Just hang up. Report the call or contact along with the scammer’s telephone number to IRS using the procedure outlined above.