The beginning of every year can be a stressful time for those who are not comfortable with filing their taxes, or who know they owe a significant amount in taxes. Unfortunately, there are criminals who take advantage of this stress and fear by exploiting individuals during tax season to con them into sending them money or personal information.
To protect yourself, your credit, and your identity this tax season educate yourself in tactics scammers use and learn how to protect yourself in the event that you are targeted.
Common Tax Scam Tactics
Scammers will make unsolicited phone calls impersonating an IRS agent demanding that you make a payment. You will know this phone call is fake and not from the IRS if:
- The caller demands you pay immediately, especially if you haven’t received a bill or any other correspondence in the mail
- You are not offered a chance to appeal the amount they request
- They only accept specific payment methods, such as a wire transfer or prepaid debit card
- You are threatened with arrest, deportation, or losing your license
- You are asked to provide your debit or credit card numbers over the phone
The IRS will never do any of the above things, so even if the caller-ID says “Internal Revenue Service” or something related, be leery of the caller and their intentions. You may also get fraudulent emails claiming to be the IRS demanding payment, so it’s important that you are vigilant about protecting your personal information and know how to react if you are victimized.
If you receive a call from a suspected scammer
Almost a million people have reported receiving a phone call as a part of an IRS scam, so don’t believe it won’t happen to you. If you do get a phone call that you believe to be a scam, here’s what you should do:
- Hang up immediately. Do not give out any personal information whatsoever.
- Contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) to report the scam.
You can report it online or call them directly.
- Report it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on their website.
If you do owe taxes and are not sure if a phone call you receive is legitimate or a scam, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Hang up the phone and go to IRS.gov to make the call yourself to ensure you’re speaking with a real representative from the IRS. They can help you if you owe taxes, and verify if the call you received was authentic or a scam.
By learning the signs of a scam, protecting yourself if you are targeted, and following the proper channels for reporting the scam, hopefully fewer people will be victimized and these criminals can be brought to justice.