Whether you’re just preparing your return or have already completed it, you need to be alert for the various scams threatening taxpayers. If you think you couldn’t be the victim of a tax-related scam, think again. In 2014, more than 330,000 individuals filed a tax identity theft complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
“Everyone should be on the lookout for threatening calls from people faking IRS phone numbers and demands for immediate payment,” says IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “I urge taxpayers to stay vigilant and remain aware of the constantly changing tactics used by these criminals.”
Phone calls and phishing emails are the top two ways scammers are trying to steal taxpayers’ information and money this year. Unfortunately, a large number of victims have fallen for these scams because they appear valid if you are unaware of the true process the IRS takes when seeking payment or information from individuals.
Scammers are using false logos, badge numbers, letterhead, phone numbers and other sophisticated methods to trick their victims into answering questions revealing personal identification numbers and credit card information. Although potentially anyone could be at risk, scammers are preying on individuals who are more likely to take immediate action, like the elderly and newly-arrived immigrants.
The IRS has identified five tactics only scammers will use.
In addition to these tactics, the IRS has identified the following “Dirty Dozen” scams being used in 2015.
If you suspect that you may be the victim of a scam, here’s what you should do.
Remember, the IRS will not use email, text messages or social media to discuss personal tax issues. Koskinen also says the agency does not hurry individuals to make a payment or to take action. There is a series of steps, including letters, phone calls and the opportunity to appeal the request and ask questions.
Do not take immediate action when being prodded by what you may think is the IRS. Simply hang up and take a moment to look for the signs that you may be dealing with a scam artist.
For more information on tax scams, visit irs.gov, or view our references.
FTC. (2015, January 26). Tax ID Theft Tops FTC Complaints in 2014; IRS Imposter Complaints Up More Than 2,300 Percent. Retrieved from https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2015/01/tax-id-theft-tops-ftc-complaints-2014-irs-imposter-complaints
IRS . (2015, March 31). Don’t be Fooled, Phone Scams Continue to Be Serious Threat Nationwide. Retrieved from http://www.irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/Don%E2%80%99t-be-Fooled-Phone-Scams-Continue-to-Be-Serious-Threat-Nationwide
IRS. (2015, February 9). IRS Completes the “Dirty Dozen” Tax Scams for 2015. Retrieved from http://www.irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/IRS-Completes-the-Dirty-Dozen-Tax-Scams-for-2015