You’ re in the middle of a busy workday and your phone rings. You check your voicemail and find an “urgent” message from the IRS regarding taxes that you owe.
Don’t call them back. It’s not the IRS. It is, however, a scam artist hoping to strong-arm you into handing over your hard-earned money. Don’t fall for it.
How To Tell If It’s A Scam
- The IRS will always contact you via mail; never by phone unless you are waiting for a return call from an agent.
- The IRS will never demand payment information or other information from you over the phone.
- The IRS will never threaten you with arrest or deportation for non-payment of taxes.
Scammers have been targeting vulnerable people: the elderly, newly arrived immigrants, people with limited English skills, and young taxpayers. Anyone can become a victim, however.
Since this scam first made headlines in 2013, 290,000 people have been contacted, and 3,000 of those folks have paid a total of 14 million to scammers posing as IRS collection agents, according to the Treausury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).
What To Do
If you receive such a call, hang up. If you know you don’t owe any taxes, report the call to TIGTA at (800) 366-4484 or at www.tigta.gov
Report the call to your local police department and file a fraud/identity theft report if you are able to capture the number from your caller i.d.
If you do owe taxes or back taxes, confirm the amount with the IRS by calling them at (800) 829-1040. They will be able to locate your tax records and the amount you owe.
The IRS scammers have disarmed their victims by having much of their personal information. Don’t be fooled. A legitimate IRS agent will contact you via mail first, along with a contact number.
As they used to say on an old cop show from the 80s: be careful out there.