This year's tax season is seeing unprecedented numbers of tax scams and new tactics scammers use to steal your identity. A new consumer alert issued March 14, 2016 by the Internal Revenue Service characterizes recent telephone scams as "aggressive and threatening." What's more, scammers are showing agility in their response to public awareness campaigns.
A new telephone scam involves a person claiming to be an IRS agent calling unsuspecting taxpayers "to verify a few details to process your return." IRS Commissioner John Koskinen warns, "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."
In fact, Koskinen says, "These schemes touch people [everywhere]. I've even gotten these calls myself." Since October 2013, victims of this type of scam have paid over $26.5 million to scammers.
The IRS offers the following guidance related to telephone scams:
The IRS will never:
- Call to demand immediate payment over the phone, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you several bills.
- Call or email you to verify your identity by asking for personal and financial information.
- Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
- Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
- Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone or e-mail.
- Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money or to verify your identity, here's what you should do:
If you don't owe taxes, or have no reason to think that 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.
To read the full consumer alert, click here.