Increasingly we have clients contacting us regarding aggressive telephone calls received from parties identifying themselves as from the Internal Revenue Service. Telephone scam artists are hard at work calling from sophisticated call centers threatening bank accounts levy or imprisonment and demanding immediate payment.
The callers demand 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.
I recently had a client receive a scam tax collection call. I contacted the IRS Office of Chief Counsel in St. Paul and gave them the scam phone number. A representative at IRS indicated these scams are proliferating and are often located overseas, making them difficult to track down and prosecute.
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. IRS never uses threatening phone calls, email, text messages or social media to discuss private tax issues.
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 and personal information or payment and hang up. Then call the IRS at 1-800-829-10401-800-829-1040 FREE if they think they might actually owe taxes or, if they know they do not owe taxes, report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 1-800-366-44841-800-366-4484 FREE or www.tigta.gov. Taxpayers should also alert the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov.
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