Beware of Scammers!

As we get into the tax season and ever closer to the tax return deadline date, the IRS is reporting they have received thousands of complaints about telephone “tax scams.” Apparently there are many variations of these scams, but the callers invariably refer to themselves as some kind of ‘authority’ and threaten arrest or legal action to claim an outstanding tax bill.

I received such a call last week and it sounded suspicious from the get go! I asked the caller to tell me exactly which department of the IRS they represented and they hung up. Maybe I just got an amateur or a newbie, but I’m told some of these scammers are really persuasive and very aggressive.  It’s estimated that IRS fraud is running at about $20 billion a year!

The purpose of the call is to get a social security number or a credit/debit card number, and the elderly are particularly at risk. Victims are threatened with foreclosure, jail-time, driver’s license revocation…..nice, huh?!

I think it’s worth understanding that regardless of what we might think of the IRS, there are a few things they just don’t do:

1.    They will never ask for a credit card over the phone.
2.    They will never require a tax payer to use a specific payment method to pay taxes.
3.    They will never demand a tax payment without giving you the opportunity to appeal (this is America!).
4.    They will never call you to demand immediate payment—they won’t even call to discuss it unless they have sent you a bill first.
5.    They will never threaten to have you arrested for not paying a bill.

Don’t be fooled and make sure members of your family and friends are aware of these scammers…or should we call them ‘scummers?’

IRS, TaxesLauren Morris