Tax season is upon us and so are the con artists. In one of the more popular scams, a caller pretends to be an agent from the IRS, complete with a badge number. Even the phone number has a Washington D.C. area code. The phony IRS agent says you owe money and threatens arrest, court action, deportation or license revocation. They try to scare the person by reading off their address, Social Security number and other personal information.
Don’t fall for the threats. According to the IRS, the agency will never:
- Call to demand immediate payment, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.
- Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
- Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
- Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
- Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
If you feel you or your loved one has a received a call like this, please call the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 1-800-366-4484.
Other popular scams
Every year the IRS compiles a list of the top scams for that year called, “The Dirty Dozen.” Here is a couple from this year’s list:
- Phishing for Trouble: Be on the lookout for suspicious emails and websites. Recently, crooks are stealing client data from tax professional then filing a fraudulent tax return. The criminals then use taxpayers' real bank accounts to direct deposit refunds. Next, they call or send emails claiming to be from a collection agency or the IRS.
- Conning Charities: Some organizations are not as they appear. Scam groups are pretending to be charities and asking people to make donations to groups or causes that don't actually qualify for a tax deduction. IRS.gov has a tool called Exempt Organizations Select Check that allows people to find charities to which donations may be tax-deductible. Just ask the charity for their Employer Identification Number (EIN) which you then input into the Exempt Organizations Select Check.
If any of these sound familiar to you or your loved one, please seek help. Call your bank if money was taken from your account, notify the local police and contact the National Consumers League’s fraud program at http://www.fraud.org or 1-800-876-7060.
You can also submit a report and receive a recovery plan from the Federal Trade Commission's website at https://identitytheft.gov/.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published March 10, 2016. It has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.