The IRS has issued a warning against the most dangerous and widespread tax scam that taxpayers may encounter: the IRS phone scam. Over 5,000 victims have paid over $26.5 million to IRS phone scammers, and roughly 896,000 phone scam contacts have been registered by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) since October 2013.
Latest Variation of IRS Phone Scam
Initially, criminals impersonating IRS agents called taxpayers, aggressively demanding payment of back taxes, often threatening them with arrest or deportation. In the latest variation, scammers call as IRS agents, pretending to verify an individual’s tax return information. They call saying that they have the taxpayer’s tax return, and just need to verify a few details before processing. Unlike the previous aggressive tactics, this time the scammers politely seek information.
“Don’t be fooled. 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,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.
Scammers keep changing their method of deception as taxpayers become aware of their current tricks. The latest variation has become increasingly prevalent in recent weeks.
Taxpayer Safety Initiatives
To protect taxpayers, the IRS, the states, and the tax industry came together in 2015 to launch a public awareness program: Taxes. Security. Together. The campaign educates and assists taxpayers to maintain security online, and to recognize and avoid phishing and other scam attempts.
There are some things that scammers often do, but the IRS will never do. The IRS will not:
- Call to demand payment over the phone, or call about taxes owed without first mailing you one or more notices.
- Call or email you asking for your personal and financial information for any reason, including verification of your identity.
- Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone or email.
- Ask you to use a specific tax payment method, such as a prepaid debit card.
- Threaten you with arrest, legal action, etc. for not paying taxes.
Whether you owe back taxes or not, do not respond to unsolicited calls or messages about taxes. Seek help from a tax professional to resolve back taxes if you owe.