The holidays are coming and the last thing you want to worry about is finding out you owe the IRS money. And that is exactly what some taxpayers in just about every state of the country are hearing, even though it’s not the case. A sophisticated phone scam has been targeting taxpayers recently, seeking to collect fake or made up “back taxes.”
The IRS states: Victims are told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. If the victim refuses to cooperate, they are then threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license. In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting.
This scam and others like it target groups that are especially vulnerable as with undocumented workers, senior aged taxpayers and others.
Key points to remember
The IRS has also reaffirmed that:
- They do not and will not ask for credit card numbers over the phone
- They will never request a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer
- They will not threaten police arrest, deportation or license revocation if you don’t pay immediately
- The IRS sends bills via the post office
How the scam operates
The IRS also noted some other characteristics of these calls to be aware of:
- Scammers use fake names and IRS badge numbers. They generally use common names and surnames to identify themselves.
- Scammers may be able to recite the last four digits of a victim’s Social Security Number.
- Scammers spoof the IRS toll-free number on caller ID to make it appear that it’s the IRS calling.
- Scammers sometimes send bogus IRS emails to some victims to support their bogus calls.
- Victims hear background noise of other calls being conducted to mimic a call site.
- After threatening victims with jail time or driver’s license revocation, scammers hang up and
- others soon call back pretending to be from the local police or DMV, and the caller ID supports their claim.
What to do if you get this call
So what do you do if you get one of these calls? First of all, never give out personal and confidential information. Do not give your social security number, credit card numbers, birthdays, or any tax records and many other types of important information to someone you do not know that may be misused by a thief. ID theft is a growing problem across the nation, so you should take every caution to always protect your personal information. Remember, the IRS will never call you to ask for these details.
If you know you owe taxes or you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS at 1.800.829.1040. If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to think that you owe any taxes then call and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1.800.366.4484.
If you’ve been targeted by this scam, you should also contact the Federal Trade Commission and use their “FTC Complaint Assistant” at FTC.gov. Add "IRS Telephone Scam" to the comments of your complaint.
If you have additional questions, please call your local Jackson Hewitt office. Read the official IRS release here.