Defending yourself against identity theft is, unfortunately, a part of modern life. Increasingly we have clients contacting us regarding aggressive telephone calls or have received emails from parties identifying themselves as from the Internal Revenue Service. These scam artists are hard at work calling from sophisticated call centers threatening bank accounts levy or imprisonment and demanding immediate payment.
How to Know When There Is a Real IRS Inquiry
The IRS has formal processes in place that require its employees to handle tax issues by sending any inquiries by U.S. mail only. The IRS never uses threatening phone calls, email, text messages or social media to discuss private tax issues.
What do the Scam Artists Want?
The callers demand personal information and/or tax payments when there has been no written notice received by the taxpayer. They demand payment without providing an opportunity to question or appeal the claimed amount owed and require payment by prepaid debit card or via credit or debit card numbers obtained over the phone. The scam artist threatens arrest if payments are not made. Scammers may also try to trick taxpayers by saying they are due a refund in attempts to obtain personal identification information.
What to Do If You Receive A Call:
Taxpayers who receive a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS asking for money should do the following:
- Refuse to provide any personal information or payment and hang up.
- Then call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 (FREE) if they think they might actually owe taxes
- If they know they do not owe taxes, report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 1-800-366-4484 (FREE) or www.tigta.gov. Taxpayers should also alert the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov.
Additional Identity Theft Information and Resources:
Federal Trade Commission | Identity Theft Checklist