IRS Theft and Scams
Unfortunately, there are some people who refuse to earn an honest living. Recently, a growing number of people have been impersonating agents from the IRS or another tax agency in order to collect confidential information and steal tax refunds. There are things you can do to prevent becoming a victim.
IRS-Impersonation Telephone Scam
An aggressive and sophisticated phone scam targeting taxpayers, including recent immigrants, has been making the rounds throughout the country. Callers claim to be employees of the IRS, but they are not. These con artists sound convincing when they call. They use fake names and bogus IRS identification badge numbers. They may know a lot about their targets, and they usually alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling.
These criminals appear to be targeting seniors and people who have telephone numbers published in printed phone directories. If your phone number is in a directory, you may wish to instruct the directory to remove your address from their publication.
Potential victims are told they owe money to the IRS, and it must be paid promptly through a pre-loaded debit card, wire transfer, or a cash payment. If the target refuses to cooperate, they are then threatened with arrest, deportation, or suspension of a business or driver’s license. In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting.
If the phone isn’t answered, the scammers may leave an “urgent” callback request.
If you have been filing your tax returns and paying your taxes, the IRS can and will use your latest address to contact you. The IRS is required by law to correspond multiple times well in advance of directly contacting you by phone or visit. The IRS is required to mail letters in order to comply with their own rules concerning collection activities and statutes of limitations.
Note that the IRS will not typically:
- Call to demand immediate payment, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill;
- 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;
- Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying; or
- Use email for collection activities. The IRS does not permit any collection activities to occur via email.
What to Do if You Become a Target
Never provide any personal information to anyone who calls you, ever. Don’t provide your name, address, phone number, social security number, credit card numbers, banking information, email address, or anything else.
If you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, and you suspect they are not an IRS employee, don’t provide any personal information. Trust your instincts. We deal with the IRS from time to time, and they don’t get abusive and call people names. If you get a call from such a person, they are not from the IRS.
Record the employee’s name, badge number, call back number and caller ID if available. (The IRS ID (Badge) number is a ten digit number.) Call 1-800-366-4484 to determine if the caller is an IRS employee with a legitimate need to contact you.
If the person calling you is an IRS employee, do call them back, after speaking with your tax return preparer. Your CPA or tax return preparer is on your side, and will protect your interests. Don’t act alone, and don’t become a victim.