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IRS Telephone Scams

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ggressive telephone scams continue across the country, including this area.  Char and her husband, Lew, have been the recipients of these calls.  They actually got a call from someone representing themselves as an IRS agent.  The caller left a message on their answering machine requiring them to return the call and threatening them with jail if they did not.  Lew told Char about the call and unfortunately he erased the message before she could call them back.  Char would have loved to ruin their day just like they are ruining the days of so many taxpayers.

            Their message is something like this:  “This is the IRS.  You owe $2,159.22 in back taxes.  These taxes are due today.  The local sheriff is on their way to your workplace right now.  In order to prevent being thrown in jail today, you must pay these back taxes immediately via prepaid debit card.”   Char recently received a call from a local resident who received a call just like that.  They were not our client, but called to ask advice on what to do.  They were terrified! 

            These callers may demand payment or say you are due a refund to attempt to get you to share private information.  They sound so convincing!  They probably did their homework and already know a lot about you.   They probably accessed your Facebook page.  They usually alter the caller ID to make it appear that the call came from IRS. They even use fake IRS identification badge numbers.

            IRS has formal procedures they are required to use for people with tax issues.  The IRS will not call and use shake-down tactics to receive payment.  This is a clear warning sign of fraud.  Here are five tactics the scammers use that the IRS will never use:

1.         Call to demand immediate payment, without first mailing you a bill.

2.         Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.

3.         Require that you use a specific payment method, such as a prepaid debit card.

4.         Request your credit or debit card numbers over the telephone.

5.         Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement to have you arrested.

            If you get a telephone call from someone claiming to be from IRS and demanding money, here’s what you should do:

1.         If you know you owe taxes or think you might owe, call IRS at 1-800-829-1040.  The IRS workers can help you with a payment issue.

2.         If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to believe that you do, report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 1-800-366-4484 or at WWW.TIGTA.GOV.

3.         If you’ve been targeted by a scam, also contact the Federal Trade Commission and use their “FTC Complaint Assistant” at WWW.FTC.GOV.  Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments of your complaint.

            IRS does not use email, text messages or any social media to discuss your personal tax issues. For additional information on reporting tax scams, go to WWW.IRS.GOV and type “SCAM” in the search box.  IRS has released new information on social media sites with a warning to taxpayers not to be fooled by imposters posing as a tax agency representative.  The new Tax Scams video describes some basic tips to help protect taxpayers from tax scams.  Access YouTube at HTTP://WWW.YOUTUBE.COM/USER/IRSVIDEOS or Tumblr at HTTP://INTERNALREVENUESERVICE.TUMBLR.COM where you can search “scams” to find all the scam-related posts.

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