The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has recently issued a statement warning taxpayers about a nationwide scam that is being carried out by telephone and email. Scammers are calling innocent taxpayers and demanding payments with a prepaid debit card or a wire transfer. A spokesperson for the IRS has assured the public that the IRS does not conduct collections this way and that the IRS does not accept credit card payments over the phone. The caller may even be able to tell you the last four digits of your social security number to sound more legitimate. They may also use a fake name, usually a common name, and give you a fake IRS ID badge number. They also seem to be following a basic script. They are even manipulating caller IDs to look more legitimate. An IRS spokesman reported that, to date, probably thousands of victims have paid over one million dollars to these scammers and that the agency has received over 20,000 reports of such fraudulent contact.
IRS Email Phishing Scam
The IRS also issued a statement a few weeks ago about a similar scam involving email phishing. The email appears to come from the IRS taxpayer advocate service and will include a fake case number. The fake email may include this message:
“Your reported 2013 income is flagged for review due to a document processing error. Your case has been forwarded to the Taxpayer Advocate Service for resolution assistance. To avoid delays processing your 2013 filing, contact the Taxpayer Advocate Service for resolution assistance.”
The statement is followed by an email link that leads to various web pages that solicit personal information. The IRS has warned that any taxpayer who gets this type of message should not respond or click on any of the links but should forward the email to firstname.lastname@example.org . Although the IRS taxpayer advocate service is a real IRS organization, the IRS says that it would never initiate contact with a taxpayer via email, texting or any kind of social media.
Another way to try and scam taxpayers is with an email that states you were due a tax refund but that there was a problem with the filing. Included is a link to click on that appears to be taking you to an IRS website to remedy the problem. At this point, you are directed to a website that will ask for personal information to correct the problem. A good idea if you are contacted via phone, email or text by someone claiming to be IRS personnel is to ask for their name and badge number and a call back number. You can then call the IRS directly to verify the information.
The IRS maintains a list of all known scams and they can be found on their website at www.IRS.gov Further, if you think that someone has gained access to your social security number to try and file an illegal tax return, you should call the IRS fraud hotline at 1-800-829-1040.
If you are feeling stressed and worried over real unpaid tax debt and need assistance, please don’t fall for one of these scams. For personal assistance please contact our office nearest you to discuss any tax issues you may be having and see how we may be able to help you.
Amy K Tanner is a shareholder in several of the Bond & Botes Law Offices. She holds a Bachelor of Science from Auburn University at Montgomery, and a Juris Doctorate from Thomas Goode Jones School of Law. She focuses primarily on consumer bankruptcy law in the Huntsville and Decatur offices.Read her full bio here.