IRS Imposters Continue to Call
Criminals posing as Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agents continue to call Minnesotans and attempt to intimidate them into paying money. These criminals use a variety of ploys to extort money from victims, including using fake names, false IRS badge numbers, and even reciting the victim’s mailing address or the last four digits of their Social Security Number. The callers may threaten arrest, jail time, driver’s license and passport revocation, and other legal action, unless the victim pays purported back taxes or fines supposedly owed to the IRS.
In many cases, it can be difficult to detect these fraudsters, who often call from outside the United States. They use “spoofing” technology to hide the origin of their calls. Spoofing is used by these scammers to make a Washington D.C. telephone number appear on a resident’s caller ID, thereby masking their identity and evading law enforcement.
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration notes that these scammers make more than 10,000 calls per week. The IRS reports that in 2016 it saw a 400 percent increase in IRS imposter calls.
If you receive a call that appears to come from the IRS, remember that the IRS does NOT:
- Call you without having first mailed you several bills;
- Ask for financial information, including your credit card or debit numbers, over the phone;
- Require you to pay back taxes using a particular form of payment, such as a wire transfer, gift card, or prepaid debit card; nor
- Threaten to have you arrested by local police or other law-enforcement agencies for failing to pay taxes.
The best way to handle such a call is to hang up the phone. Speaking with the scammers may encourage them to call again.
You can report this scam to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration as follows:
Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration
1401 H Street NW, Suite 469
Washington, DC 20005
Tax Relief Scams
If you have unpaid tax obligations and are looking for help to resolve them, you should be careful to avoid hiring tax relief companies that charge you money to help you but end up making a bad situation worse.
Tax Preparer Fees and “Tax Time” Financial Products
Many Americans use tax preparers to file their taxes. In 2016, for example, over 78 million Americans paid tax preparers to file returns. If you are considering using a tax preparer, you should learn as much as you can about the preparer and the services offered before you purchase.
Tax Related Identity Theft and Other Tax Scams
The U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration estimates that 1.6 million Americans were victims of tax related identity theft and refund scams in the first six months of 2013, an increase from 1.2 million in all of 2012. Don't let this happen to you! Be on alert for these common scams.