It seems like every year scammers are coming up with new tricks to try and steal the public’s hard earned cash. With technology constantly changing, the ability to deceive the masses has become an easier task to pull off. According to the IRS, since 2013, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration became aware of close to four thousand tax scam victims – totaling more than $20 million in loses.
The IRS says while scammers used to target a specific demographic(like he elderly, new immigrants and those who don’t speak English), they are now looking to exploit anyone.
A new tactic scammers are using is altering your telephone’s caller ID to appear part of the IRS or another government agency. Scammers will also use fake names, titles and badge numbers. With the abundance of information found online, scammers can even find your name, address and other details about your life to make the call sound official. They have also been known to copy official IRS letterhead and use them in email or regular mail. But it doesn’t stop there as one con includes using a real IRS address to make the scheme seem realistic.
The common factor in all these scams is playing on fear. Scammers will attempt to scare you into reacting without thinking through what’s happening or verifying if what they are saying is true.
The BBB advises the public to be aware of these telling signs of a scam.
Demand payment over the phone, or threatening law enforcement involvement. The IRS will never demand immediate payment over the phone, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill. Neither will they have you arrested for not paying.
Require a specific payment method. Scammers most commonly ask for a prepaid credit card as a payment method. Tracing the money can be difficult for law enforcement and it doesn’t require the victim’s bank account.
Ask for credit card or debit card information. Never get out this sensitive information over the phone. Instead, you can find out if you owe taxes by calling the IRS at 1-800-829-1040. IRS workers can help you with a payment issue.
If you know you don’t owe taxes you can report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 1-800-366-4484. Additionally, if you’ve been targeted you can contact the Federal Trade Commission and use their “FTC Complaint Assistant” at FTC.gov. Be sure to add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments of your complaint.