Now that the tax season is over, it’s time for IRS to make some calls to the US taxpayers. Even though the IRS usually contacts taxpayers for audit or collection purposes, there are certain “special circumstances” in which the IRS may contact or visit an individual, “such as when a taxpayer has an overdue tax bill, to secure a delinquent tax return or a delinquent employment tax payment, or to tour a business as part of an audit or during criminal investigations.”
Usually, you would think that it’s the IRS that is contacting you, but have you ever thought that whoever is reaching out to you is not a genuine IRS agent?
What do you do in such a situation?
Thankfully, the IRS has come to the rescue of the US taxpayers by releasing a new mandate containing all the guidelines that one must follow to avoid scammers. In the release IR-2018-129, IRS has clearly stated:
“IRS continues warning on impersonation scams; Reminds people to remain alert to other scams, schemes this summer warning that you need to be aware of.”
Alerting the citizens, IRS maintains that:
“Scams take many shapes and forms, such as phone calls, letters, and emails. Many IRS impersonators use threats to intimidate and bully people into paying a fabricated tax bill…They may even threaten to arrest or deport their would-be victim if the victim doesn’t comply.”
To help citizens detect scammers and fraudulent calls, IRS made things clear in the release:
- It never contacts taxpayers to demand payment via payment methods such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. It has never used these methods for tax payments. The genuine process involves the IRS mailing a bill to any taxpayer whose taxes are due. One should never pay cheques to third parties. All tax payments must be made payable to the U.S. Treasury.
- It never threatens taxpayers to bring in the local police or other law-enforcement associations to have them arrested for not paying their taxes.
- It never requires that taxes should be paid immediately without allowing a taxpayer to question or appeal the due tax amount.
- It never demands credit/debit card details over the phone.
While these are the norms that the IRS strictly abides by, it advises taxpayers to follow these steps in case fraud IRS agents ever contact them.
- Hang up the phone immediately when the fake IRS agent asks you for your personal information.
- Report the call to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration via the IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting webpage.
- Report the caller ID to the IRS by emailing it to firstname.lastname@example.org under the subject “IRS Phone Scam.”
- Report the call along with the caller ID to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) using FTC Complaint Assistant on FTC.gov. Here’s how you can do it.
To help you further, IRS has helpful blogs like Avoid scams: Know the facts on how the IRS contacts taxpayers and How to know it’s really the IRS calling or knocking at your door.
So, be a smart citizen and know when it is a scam alert.
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