Take Caution: Pervasive Phone Scam Affecting Thousand of Tax Payers

We would like to take a moment to warn our valued clients of a sophisticated phone scam targeting taxpayers both locally and across the country. The IRS is reporting that many individuals are receiving unsolicited phone calls from scammers claiming to be IRS representatives and demanding immediate payment for taxes owed. Major 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 as if it’s the IRS calling.

  • Scammers sometimes send bogus IRS emails to support their bogus claims.

  • 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.

To date, the office of the Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) has received close to 90,000 complaints about this scam through its telephone hotline. The combined loss of nearly 1,100 individuals is estimated to be $5 million. To avoid becoming a victim, it is important for taxpayers to know that the IRS:

Never asks for credit card, debit card or prepaid card information over the telephone.

  • Never insists that taxpayers use a specific payment method to pay tax obligations.

  • Never requests immediate payment over the telephone and will not take enforcement action immediately following a phone conversation. Taxpayers usually receive prior notification of IRS enforcement action involving IRS tax liens or levies.

Additionally, it should also be noted that the IRS will never call out of the blue, but will make first contact through official mail correspondence. If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, here’s what you should do:

  • If you know you owe taxes or you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS at 1.800.829.1040. The IRS employees at that line can help you with a payment issue, if there really is such an issue.

  • If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to think that you owe any taxes (for example, you’ve never received a bill or the caller made some bogus threats as described above), then call and report the incident to TIGTA at 1.800.366.4484.

  • If you’ve been targeted by this scam, you should also contact the Federal Trade Commission and use their “FTC Complaint Assistant” at FTC.gov. Please add "IRS Telephone Scam" to the comments of your complaint.

We encourage our clients to be vigilant against phone and email scams that use the IRS as a lure. Please let us know if we can assist you or answer any questions. Contact me at (858) 270-2339 or dfaulds@fauldsbookkeeping.com

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