The IRS Issues Additional Phone Scam Warning
Earlier this month, the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) repeated a warning to taxpayers regarding an ongoing phone scam. According to the IRS, approximately 90,000 taxpayers received calls from individuals who fraudulently claim to be the IRS, demand payment, and threaten legal action. According to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, approximately 1,100 taxpayers have lost money to the scam. As of August 13th, victims lost an estimated $5 million total.
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen told taxpayers that these losses are avoidable. “There are clear warning signs…” he said, “Taxpayers should remember their first contact with the IRS will not be a call from out of the blue….A big red flag for these scams is angry, threatening calls from people who say they are from the IRS and urging immediate payment.” He concluded, “This is not how we operate.”
How to Identify Fraudulent IRS Calls
Fortunately, the IRS follows strict guidelines when calling taxpayers. Here are a few ways that you can differentiate between fraudulent and authentic communication from the IRS.
1. The IRS will never ask for immediate payment via phone call. Additionally, enforcement action (liens or levies) are preceded by notifications of enforcement action.
2. The IRS will never ask for the following items over the phone: credit card information, debit card information, or prepaid card information.
3. The IRS will never force taxpayers to use a specific method of payment (such as a credit card) to fulfill their financial obligations.
In addition to these guidelines, the IRS provides a list of ways to identify potential scammers. For example, scammers may use a fake name and IRS badge number to perpetuate their act. Often, scammers know the last four digits of your social security number and may call from a number that mimics the IRS on caller ID. During the call, the scammers may imitate office sounds and background noises to make the conversation seem legitimate. Finally, scammers may threaten legal action during the call and follow it up with another phone call, where they claim to be law enforcement or the DMV.
To read the full news release from the IRS, click here.