Scammers constantly try and use the Internal Revenue Service as a way to get honest Americans to pay them. We often hear reports from victims who receive a call from someone claiming to be with the IRS to get money out of them. Here are some common scams the IRS warns about:
- Hurricane Season: Be wary of scammers trying to take advantage of your generosity in trying help others.
- Impersonation Scams: The IRS advises to remain to remain alert to other scams, and schemes after tax season. Further, to remain vigilant for phishing emails and telephone scams. Summertime tends to be a favorite period for scammers because many taxpayers have recently filed a return and may be waiting for a response from the IRS.
- Phone Scams: Scammers will use a phone scam where you are directed to IRS.gov to “verify” calls. This new twist on an old phone scam can appear legitimate since the scammer can use telephone numbers that mimic IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers to trick taxpayers into paying non-existent tax bills.
- Ghost Preparers: A ghost preparer is paid to prepare a tax return but does not sign it as the paid preparer. These phantom preparers who won’t put their name on the tax return are a warning sign for taxpayers of a potential scam.
- IRS Refunds: The “IRS Refunds” scam is a common tactic used by cybercriminals to trick people into opening a link or attachment associated with the email that takes people to a fake page where thieves try to steal personally identifiable information.
- IRS Impersonation Telephone Scams: A sophisticated phone scam targeting taxpayers, including recent immigrants, has been making the rounds throughout the country. Callers claim to be IRS employees, using fake names and bogus IRS identification badge numbers. They may know a lot about their targets, and they usually alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling. Victims are told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly through a gift card or wire transfer. Victims may be threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license. In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting. Victims may be told they have a refund due to try to trick them into sharing Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail you a bill if you owe any taxes. Be wary if you have been threatened with having local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying or if they demand payment without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe and finally if they ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
These are just a few of the scams cybercriminals use to take advantage of us. Please know the Internal Revenue Service will not call to demand immediate payment or threaten to bring in local police or other law enforcement, but they will first mail a bill to any taxpayer who owes taxes. If you do owe taxes, the IRS will instruct taxpayers to make payments to the “United States Treasury”.
Gail Hughes Donaldson is a Managing Partner of the Bond & Botes Law Offices in Montgomery and Opelika, Alabama. She holds a Bachelor of Science from Auburn University at Montgomery, and a Juris Doctorate from Thomas Goode Jones School of Law. She’s been helping families work through the bankruptcy process since she started with Bond & Botes back in 1993 as a paralegal. Read her full bio here.