We’ve given you warnings in the past about identity theft and tax refund fraud, but there are two additional scams creating issues for taxpayers this year. We want you to know because these scams are getting better, are much more authentic in presentation, and are becoming incredibly common.
A New ID Theft Rip-off
If one wasn’t enough, there is another identity theft con making the rounds. This one is an email, purportedly from the IRS, asking you to verify “your information from a 1040 tax form that you filed within the last six years.” The email requests you click on the hyperlink in the email to begin the process. DON’T!
The simple truth of the matter is this:
The IRS will never contact you via email.
Remember this fact and you’ll protect yourself from this new fraud.
The Phone Scam
A not-so-new, but ramped up version of the telephone ploy has emerged this tax season. Thieves posing as IRS Revenue Agents are calling unsuspecting people, typically at their homes, demanding thousands of dollars or face the possibility of prison. So far this year, there have been close to 400,000 complaints associated with this type of scam, and apparently, nobody is immune. A U.S. Treasury deputy inspector general even received the call recently.
The scripts behind these calls take various forms, but basically the imposter tells the unsuspecting victim the IRS will issue arrest warrants or confiscate property if they don’t immediately pay their bills with prepaid debit cards or credit cards. The damage associated with this scheme is now into the tens of millions dollars.
These callers may know a lot about you (name, address, and even social security number), and they often alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling. When they begin this spiel, they say something like, “This is Mr. or Ms. [John Doe], badge number XXXXXX…” This is designed to make the victim believe the call is real. And, if you don’t happen to be home when they call, they may leave an “urgent” callback request. Last tax season, one of my own clients received such a call, and my client and I had the unusual opportunity to speak to the would-be crook. They were very good in their delivery, but after just a few poignant questions regarding the information on our client’s tax return their scam became obvious, and they quickly hung up on us.
While the IRS is not an agency to trifle with…
The IRS does not make calls demanding money. Their communications are conducted via letter.
Please keep these new and continuing schemes in mind if you are contacted. As professional advisers, accountants and tax preparers, make your own clients aware of these fraudulent schemes.
Anyone who is unsure of a caller professing to be with the IRS should go directly to the source; call the Internal Revenue Service at 1-800-829-1040, and request information about your account.