Receiving contact from the IRS can be enough to make your heart drop but being contacted from someone claiming to be from the IRS and falling into a tax scam can sometimes be even worse. The sad thing is that tax scams can happen any time of the year and not just around the tax season. It’s important to stay alert to scams that claim they are from the IRS when they contact you. There are a ton of different types of tax scams out there and Gurian CPA has provided you with a list of the top tax scams that are a threat today to ensure that you’re prepared. Knowing the different types of tax scams and understanding exactly how the IRS will contact you will help ensure that you don’t fall victim to the tax scam epidemic.
The tax scams are so prevalent that tax payers are receiving them in many different forms like phone calls, text messages, phishing emails, social media and fake websites that look almost identical to the IRS website. Since technology is drastically improving, so are the techniques of the tax scammers. They are continuously coming up with new variations on phishing schemes, which makes it even more important for tax payers to be aware of who they’re interacting with and what they’re demanding of you. Tax scammers will do their research before they contact you to try and make it seem even more believable. They will demand credit card payments, wire transfers, money orders, and even gift cards in order to make a payment for what they are claiming are past due taxes. No matter the scam you receive, the end goal for the con artists is the same: to steal your personal information and money. Identity theft has gotten so bad, that you can almost count on one of these scams happening to you or someone that you know. If you receive one of these tax scams, it’s important that you do the following:
- Do not answer. If the caller ID on your phone says “IRS”, do not answer. I promise you that it is not the IRS calling you. If you’re still questioning that it is the IRS and are worried about possible repercussions of not handling your issue with them, then make them leave a voicemail. After you receive the call you can always contact the IRS directly to ensure the validity of the call you received.
- Individual tax payers: 800-829-1040
- Business tax payers: 800-829-4933
- Overseas tax payers: 267-941-1000
- If you answer, hang up. If you do happen to answer a call that’s claiming to be from the IRS be sure to hang up immediately. Do not confirm or provide any information to the individual on the other end of the phone. Remember, you can always contact the IRS directly if you’re worried about the call you received to verify the accuracy.
- Do not worry. You’re not the only one that has received this scam. There are millions of taxpayers that are dealing or have dealt with one of the tax scam.
- Tell others. If you have been targeted by one of the tax scams, it’s also important to make sure that you let others close to you know what happened. A lot of people have the mentality thinking that it would never happen to them. Awareness can be your best defense when dealing with tax scams like these. Young tax payers, older citizens and new citizens are common targets of these types of scams.
- Report the scam. If you receive a phishing scam like an email or a fake website be sure to report it to the IRS. To report these tax scams to the IRS send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s important to understand how the IRS will contact you if they need to. The IRS will never contact you via phone call, text message or email. The first step in the IRS contacting you is by a certified letter. After you’ve received a certified letter from the IRS, you may receive a phone call from them to resolve delinquencies or set up an appointment, which shouldn’t be confused with one of the tax scams.
Tax scams usually target tax payers, although there are a handful of cases were tax preparers have been a target to these tax scams as well. As a tax preparer there are certain steps that you should take in order to avoid being a victim of a tax scam.
- Search for viruses and malware by running a security “deep scan”.
- Make sure that you have secure, strong passwords for computer access and software access. It’s recommended to make sure your password in a minimum of 8 digits, using both numbers, letters and special characters.
- Beware of phishing scams and avoid clicking or opening attachments that are sent from unknown senders.
- Make sure that your staff is well educated on the dangers of tax scams and what to look out for.
- Review employee software that they may use for remote access to connect to your network.
In the instance that you have fallen victim to one of the many tax scams and have experienced any monetary loss due to the scam, you can report it to the Treasury Inspector General Administration (TIGTA) and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) through their Complain Assistant so that an available investigator can handle the issue.
By: Paige Knight