25th Aug 2014
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) recently put out a press release regarding telephone scammers that claim to be calling from the IRS. TIGTA has received 90,000 complaints of telephone scams and has confirmed that 1,100 taxpayers have lost $5,000,000. Theses scammers play on taxpayers’ fears of the IRS to steal money and information.
There are some common sense things you should know about the IRS and about how phone scammers operate. Remember these tips:
1) Your first contact with IRS regarding a tax problem should come in the form of a letter, not the phone and NEVER EMAIL. Anytime you are unsure of the caller’s credentials, hang up and call the official IRS phone number: 1-800-829-1040.
2) IRS never collects credit card or debit card information over the phone.
3) IRS never requires a specific form of payment. Anytime you think someone is calling from the IRS and they demand you must pay by credit card or obtain a pre-paid card immediately, it is a scammer – HANG UP and call the real IRS at 1-800-829-1040!
4) IRS never makes any immediate threat and is not permitted to demand immediate payment or immediately cart you off to jail or revoke your driver’s license. Note that your driver’s license is issued from the state not the federal government anyway!
5) These scammers are sneaky; sometimes they make Caller ID look like it is coming from the IRS, a police department, DMV, etc. Some even hang up with you then call from a mock number looking like the DMV or police. The local police and DMV do not work that well with the IRS, so don’t believe it! As always, call IRS if you have any doubt.
6) Scammers have loads of mined data from credit card companies, the health care industry, etc. Do not trust them just because they have information such as your social security number.
7) Scammers play other calls in the background to make it sound like a call center. The real IRS is very careful about confidentiality and it is unlikely you would hear much of any other conversation in the background.
8) Anytime you are suspicious, hang up and call IRS: 1-800-829-1040.
9) If you think you have been in contact with a scammer, be sure to report it to TIGTA, with as much information as you can give. TIGTA – 1-800-366-4484. If you are the victim of a scam be sure to also report it to the FTC at FTC.gov and put in the comments “IRS Telephone Scam”.
With so much of our personal data compromised, it is hard to know when to really be concerned because the IRS has come knocking but avoid the scammers. If unsure, hang up and call the IRS!