It's that time of year when scammers are targeting senior citizens with creative Internal Revenue Service scare tactics. Since taxpayers are anxious this time of year, fraudsters are using telephone IRS schemes to dupe their victims out of millions.
According to WHHY, tax season happens to be the most dreaded time of the year and scammers take advantage of it by tricking unsuspecting people into giving them money. The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration reports over 12,000 victims have been tricked into giving over $63 million since 2013. Most of these scams occur in March and April.
As technology continues to evolve, savvy con artists can easily make their phone call appear legitimate by utilizing caller ID. Sadly, the crook can make any number show up on caller ID giving the call the appearance that its coming from the IRS or a legal authority. Often times the caller will threaten legal action and the only way the urgent request can go away is for the taxpayer to give the fraudster their debit cards, credit cards or other bank information.
The IRS consumer alert site indicates scammers are using the regular mail, telephone, email, and text messages to carry out their hoax on individuals, businesses and tax professionals. The IRS provides a few tips to help you understand how they will approach you. Typically, the IRS will send a letter through regular mail using the United States Postal Service. The IRS may visit your home or business, but will first send several notices in the mail.
Things the IRS will not do.
- Demand immediate debit card, gift card or wire transfer payment.
- Demand payment without an opportunity to appeal and provide a taxpayer bill of rights.
- Threaten to bring in local law enforcement or immigration officials to have you arrested for not paying. They will not revoke your drivers license, immigration status or business license.
If you think you have received a suspicious call or message, a recent Forbes article highlights several things you should do.
- If you receive a call from someone claiming to be with the IRS and you know you don't owe tax, do not engage with the scammer and do not give out personal information. Just hang up.
- If you receive a call from a suspected scammer, do not call them back.
- If you receive a call from the IRS and you do owe tax, do not give any personal information out. Call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040.
Please don't make it it easier for the fraudsters to make you their next victim. Keep all of your personal information safe at all times. To report a phone scam, contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1-800-366-4484 or access their website.