How to spot and report IRS scams
Your home phone rings. You’re surprised–who even calls a landline nowadays? It’s an unfamiliar number, and when you answer, you’re in for an unpleasant surprise:
You’re being prosecuted by the government because you owe the IRS thousands of dollars in taxes, and you need to act now to avoid jail!
Or DO YOU?
Chances are, you’re being targeted for one of the many IRS scams that have been burning up the phone wires this year. Don’t be a victim! Remember, the IRS will NEVER call you as their first contact about a tax issue. Typical IRS protocol is to mail you a letter advising you of your tax issue, and this letter will contain information so you can call the IRS and work it out. (By the way, if you ever receive such a letter, remember to contact us right away so we can help!)
What You Need to Know about IRS Phone Scams:
IRS.gov has issued detailed warning signs to help you spot IRS scams on the phone. If the caller does any of these things, hang up (if you haven’t already, because first and foremost you know the IRS will never call you as its first contact) immediately.
|A scammer will:||The IRS would (AFTER establishing initial contact by mail):|
|Act insulting, demanding or threatening||Be respectful, willing to work with you and polite to deal with.|
|Insist on immediate payment over the phone/request a credit or debit card number over the phone||Set a plan with you to make your payment and follow up with a letter outlining this plan before you make any payments.|
|Pressure you to make an immediate decision.||Allow you time to research, educate you on the appeals process if you wish to appeal, and contact your financial team to get things in order.|
|Issue a set of odd instructions for payment, such as directing you to Western Union or a local store like Walmart or CVS to buy gift cards.||Not do that. EVER.|
Remember, the IRS is a government organization with formal processes in place to handle tax issues, not some creepy loan shark–they are bound by law to respect your rights! If any of these things occur, hang up immediately. Then what?
What you Need to Know about IRS Scams by Mail:
Just recently, another scam came to light: scammers send you a letter notifying you that you owe taxes tied to the Affordable Care Act. The IRS has issued a warning with updated signs of fraud to watch out for. These letters appear to come from the IRS. But they request that you make checks out to I.R.S. (typically, you would make a tax payment checks out to The United States Treasury–after all, that’s where your taxes are going.) Before you do anything about IRS-related correspondence, real or fake, we encourage you to call Ten Key, Inc., so we can help.
What to Do if You Think You’re Receiving an IRS Scam Call or Letter:
- Hang up on the caller. Don’t wait–these calls sometimes get ugly if you stay on the line. Save anything you received in the mail.
- Call Ten Key, Inc. right away. We know it’s unpleasant to deal with IRS scams and we can reassure you that your tax issues are in order. If you received a letter, scan it and email it to us right away so we can take a look.
- Call the IRS at 1.800.829.1040 to confirm that you have no outstanding tax issues.
- Report the incident. You can report IRS phone scams to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 1.800.366.4484 or at www.tigta.gov. You also have the option to file a complaint using the FTC Complaint Assistant.
A call center has been busted for perpetrating IRS scams. Not everyone gets caught, though, so keep these tips in mind and don’t allow yourself to get taken in. If you have any doubts at all, hang up! And remember, you can call Ten Key, Inc., if you ever have any questions at all about the IRS and your tax situation. We’re here to help.