IRS Phone Scams – What You Need to Know
Do you think the only way tax scammers can obtain personal information is through the internet? If, so you are wrong. While many scammers obtain personal information via websites, IRS phone scams are the new way to breach data. In fact, since October 2015, the IRS has identified thousands of victims who have collectively paid more than $26 million as a result of IRS phone scams.
Phone Scams: 101
Scammers can easy obtain personal information to fraudulently file a tax return from an unsuspecting victim. They will call to solicit your name, Social Security Number (SSN) and date of birth to then fraudulently file your taxes with the hope of getting your return.
Scammers typically try to impersonate an IRS agent. Scammers might attempt to convince you that you are actually due for a larger refund. Or, they might try to convince you that you owe a large amount of back taxes and must pay them over the phone.
They subsequently can make up a W-2 using your information and file a return claiming a refund in YOUR name, deposited into their bank account electronically.
How to Protect Yourself
Here are a few strategies in case you are a victim of tax scams by phone:
- Do not provide personal information over the phone, even by text messages. Also avoid sending information via mail or online unless you have initiated contact with the recipient.
- There are a few common red flags arise with phone scammers. Know that the IRS will never do the following:
- Call to demand immediate payment
- Call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.
- Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
- Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
- Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
- Threaten to bring in local police or other law enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
What Actions Can You Take to Avoid IRS Phone Scams?
- If you receive a phone call, or an email with similar messages, do not respond. Do not give them any personal information!
- Make sure you select a qualified and trustworthy Tax Advisor that can help answer questions about contact with the IRS and assist you.
- Leverage Tax Identity Shield® by H&R Block. If you’ve already been notified that a fraudulent tax return was filed in your name, you can speak to someone about Tax Identity Victim Restoration Assistance. This will help you file a legitimate return with the IRS and give you next steps to make the necessary police reports, notify the credit bureaus as well as the FTC and Social Security Administration, financial institutions and more.
- As a final measure of precaution, you can report the incident online or call the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484.