The IRS has included the IRS phone scam and phishing in its 2015 Dirty Dozen Tax Scams list. The IRS phone scam was deemed the biggest tax scam of its kind when it was first discovered. Since October 2013, according to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, more than 3,000 victims have paid more than $14 million.
In this tax scam, taxpayers receive threatening phone calls by individuals that pretend to be from the IRS. They inform taxpayers that they have back taxes and must pay them immediately through a prepaid debit card. The scammers usually intimidate and threaten the victim with legal action, deportation, or license revocation.
Phishing is another method that scam artists use to steal sensitive information from taxpayers using fake websites. Taxpayers that are not Internet savvy should enlist help when filing taxes electronically, or including tax, personal and financial information on websites.
This year, unlike previous years, the IRS is issuing the Dirty Dozen Tax Scams one at a time to raise awareness among taxpayers about each tax scam.
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said, “If someone calls unexpectedly claiming to be from the IRS with aggressive threats if you don’t pay immediately, it’s a scam artist calling. The first IRS contact with taxpayers is usually through the mail. Taxpayers have rights, and this is not how we do business.”
To protect yourself from the IRS phone scam and phishing, never share sensitive information with anybody whose identity is unverified. When receiving unsolicited calls from somebody that claims to be from the IRS demanding money, disconnect the phone and report it to the IRS, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), or a law enforcement agency. A little caution will go a long way in ensuring the safety of your private information.