Watch Out For IRS Phone Call Scams
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has released a warning stating that all American taxpayers should beware of scammers. Every year when tax season rolls around, scammers attempt to prey on unsuspecting consumers. Unfortunately, vulnerable citizens such as recent immigrants and the elderly are usually top targets. If you answer the phone, and the person on the other end claims to be a representative of the IRS, watch out! The IRS very rarely contacts taxpayers over the phone or through e-mail. Typically, the agency first contacts taxpayers using snail mail. You should be very skeptical of anyone calling you on the phone who claims to work for the IRS, if they have not first sent you a letter. Before you make any payment, or give them any personal information, you should speak to an experienced tax attorney.
Six Warning Signs of an IRS Phone Impersonation Scam
IRS phone impersonation scammers have become increasingly sophisticated. Here are six critical things to watch out for:
- The person on the other end of the phone knows a lot about you: Frequently, IRS impersonation scammers will target victims after acquiring a decent amount of personal identifying information. They may know your name, your address, members of your household and even the last four digits of your social security number. Do not accept this information as proof that the call is legitimate. Before giving them any information, insist that they send you something in writing on IRS stationary which provides their name, work address, and telephone number. Then call the number on the letter to verify that the number belongs to an IRS employee.
- This is the first time you are hearing about your alleged ‘tax debt’: The IRS generally uses snail mail to contact delinquent taxpayers. The agency normally does not make phone calls as the first step to make taxpayers aware of their debt. If you have not had any previous correspondence from the IRS regarding unpaid taxes, then the phone call is almost certainly from a scammer.
- Immediate payment is demanded: The IRS almost never demands on the spot payment over the phone. Period. If the person on the other end of the phone demands that you make a payment right that second, you are talking to a scammer.
- You are asked to pay your tax debt by funding a pre-paid debit card or by making a wire transfer: The two most commons ways to pay the IRS are using a check or a credit card. The IRS will never ask you to fund a prepaid debit card or make a bank wire transfer. Those are popular ways for scammers to get payment because they are difficult to trace and reverse.
- The alleged agent wants your credit or debit card number: The IRS will not demand your credit or debit card number over the phone. If you are being pressured into giving that information, you are speaking with a scammer.
- You are threatened with arrest, deportation, or any other immediate legal action: These threats sound very serious, but they are common scare tactics. Scammers will try to intimidate victims by referencing arrest, deportation, suspension of a driver’s license or other swift law enforcement action. The IRS will not do this. If this type of threat is made, or implied, you are talking to an IRS impersonator who is trying to scam you.
If you wish to report a tax scam to the IRS, the agency website provides instructions. If you need legal assistance, an experienced tax attorney can help.
Do not be intimidated by the aggressive threats of an IRS phone scammer. The best thing you can do is usually to simply hang up the phone. Never give out any money or personal identifying information to an alleged IRS agent who contacts you over the phone. Even if you believe that you actually do owe back taxes, it is very unlikely that you are speaking to a genuine representative of the IRS. Please contact the Law Offices of A. Lavar Taylor LLP, if you have any questions.