From time to time the IRS issues consumer warnings on the fraudulent use of the IRS name or logo by scamsters trying to gain access to consumers’ financial information in order to steal their identity and assets. When identity theft takes place over the Internet, it is called phishing.
Phishing (as in “fishing for information” and “hooking” victims) is a scam where Internet fraudsters send e-mail messages to trick unsuspecting victims into revealing personal and financial information that can be used to steal the victims’ identity. Current scams include phony e-mails which claim to come from the IRS and which lure the victims into the scam by telling them that they are due a tax refund.
2013/2014 Tax Season Telephone Scam
The most recent scam that the public has told our office involvesa sophisticated phone scam targeting taxpayers, including recent immigrants, throughout the country.
Here is how it works: Victims receive a call from someone purporting to be working for the IRS. The intended victim is told he or she owes money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. If the victim refuses to cooperate, he or she is then threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license. In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting.
The IRS is aware of this scam too and has confirmed that this scam has hit taxpayers in nearly every state in the country. The IRS does not and will not ask for credit card numbers over the phone, nor request a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer.
If someone unexpectedly calls claiming to be from the IRS and threatens police arrest, deportation or license revocation if you don’t pay immediately, that is a sign that it really isn’t the IRS calling. When the IRS is first contacting a taxpayer on a tax issue is likely to occur via mail.
Other characteristics of this scam include:
- Scammers use fake names and IRS badge numbers. They generally use common names and surnames to identify themselves.
- Scammers may be able to recite the last four digits of a victim’s Social Security Number.
- Scammers spoof the IRS toll-free number on caller ID to make it appear that it’s the IRS calling.
- Scammers sometimes send bogus IRS emails to some victims to support their bogus calls.
- Victims hear background noise of other calls being conducted to mimic a call site.
- After threatening victims with jail time or driver’s license revocation, scammers hang up and others soon call back pretending to be from the local police or DMV, and the caller ID supports their claim.
The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. This includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels. The IRS also does not ask for PINs, passwords or similar confidential access information for credit card, bank or other financial accounts.
Employment Verification Contacts
If you receive a telephone call or a fax from someone claiming to be with the IRS and you are not comfortable providing the information, you should get that person’s name, badge number and office location and then contact the IRS customer service line at 1-800-829-4933 to verify the validity of the call or fax. Upon getting verification from this IRS customer service line, you may then contact the IRS employee who requested the information and provide the required information.
To Report Fraud
You may also report the fraudulent misuse of the IRS name, logo, forms or other IRS property by calling the IRS toll-free fraud hotline at 1-800-366-4484.
What You Should Do If You Really Do Have Tax Issues?
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Description: The Law Offices of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. has helped many people avoid collection action by the IRS and State tax agencies. Working with one of our tax attorneys in Los Angeles or elsewhere in California is the best bet for reducing or eliminating the amount you owe.