Have You Been Receiving A Lot Of Calls From The IRS Lately? Chances Are That You Are Being Scammed!
While it’s a usual occurrence for the IRS to call taxpayers during the tax season, unfortunately, fraudsters and scammers use this window as an opportunity to scam you. And that’s why every year the IRS publishes a detailed list of scams to warn the taxpayers about the ways in which scammers may use to fool you.
When it comes to contacting taxpayers, the IRS isn’t what you would call ‘modern’ in its approach – it never calls or messages taxpayers personally and neither does it send out emails. The standard method that the IRS uses to alert taxpayers about any issue related to their tax returns or any other tax-related issue, it always sends a letter or a fax.
So, what are the common ways that scammers use to cheat you and extract personal information about you?
If you ever receive a phone call from someone who identifies himself/herself as an IRS agent, before you divulge any information to the caller, first ask them to provide their full name, their phone number, and their badge number. Once you’ve received these details, call the IRS toll free number 1-800-829-1040 and provide the IRS personnel with those details along with the time and date of the call (if you can try to give them the geographic location of the caller as well). If the IRS personnel confirms that the caller was indeed an IRS agent, you’ve got nothing to worry about. However, if the IRS tells you that the caller was a fake IRS agent, you should immediately report the call.
Here’s how you can do it:
- Draft an email with “IRS Phone Scam” as the subject line and describe the call and send it to the IRS at email@example.com.
- Lodge an online complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
- Submit a complaint to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) website by filling out this form.
- Lodge an online phone complaint with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) at their Consumer Complaint Center.
You can also call the state Attorney General’s consumer complaint department and notify them about the suspicious call.
Text messages are another method that scammers use to extract information from unwary taxpayers. But as we said earlier, IRS never uses text messages to communicate with taxpayers. So, if you ever receive a text message from an unknown number asking any kind of personal details from you, don’t reply to such texts. Also, follow these simple rules:
- Never open any attachment or links from an unknown number.
- Forward the exact text to 202-552-1226 (IRS) and also send the number of the scammer in a separate text to the same IRS number (202-552-1226).
- Delete the text from the suspicious phone number from your mobile.
Often fraudsters pretend to be IRS agents and set up email addresses and websites to try to convince people to offer their personal and confidential information via email. But, like the other two methods, this is also a ploy to fool you. Usually, it’s easy to spot phony emails since they almost always seem to mention taxes and demand your personal details, your bank details, your Social Security Number, and so on.
If ever you receive such phony emails, do the following:
- Never reply to it.
- Never open any attachment or links provided in such an email.
- Forward the email to the IRS at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Delete the email.
Now, comes the tricky bit – what if you receive a letter or a fax from the “IRS”?
Yes, the IRS uses letters or fax to communicate with taxpayers, but that doesn’t mean that a letter that’s been sent to you from the IRS must be genuine and bonafide. Even though it may appear to be authentic, it may be just an another attempt of a scammer trying to scam you.
If the letter has indeed come from the IRS, it will have an official form or letter number that you verify on the IRS’ official website under the Notices and Letters Search option. In case you cannot find the number on the IRS website, you can always call at 1-800-829-1040 and provide them the full details of the letter you received.
Additionally, IRS has a detailed account of what you can and should do if ever you fall prey to such tax scams and frauds. If you thoroughly go through this page, it shouldn’t be very difficult for you to identify the red flags and protect yourself from tax scammers.
If you have any tax or business-related queries, write to us at email@example.com. You can also call us at (888)-482-0279.