With tax season in full swing, the IRS this week issued a new tax scam alert over significant reports of scammers calling under the guise of verifying tax return information over the phone.
The attempted sham involves scammers posing as IRS agents calling to say they have your tax return and need to verify details to process it, the IRS said. The scammers ask for personal information such as a Social Security number or bank numbers and credit cards.
“Don’t be fooled,” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said in a press release. “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.”
The IRS has issued multiple scam warnings this tax season, including an alert about a 400 percent increase in email phishing scams.The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration also issued its own warning earlier this year, after receiving reports of roughly 896,000 phone scam contacts since October 2013 and have become aware of over 5,000 victims who have collectively paid over $26.5 million as a result of the scam.
Tell-Tale Scam Signs
Here are some things the scammers often do but the IRS will not do, the agency said. 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 the IRS advises 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.
If you know you owe, or think you may owe tax:
Call the IRS directly at 800-829-1040 for assistance.