There is a very common question a tax preparer receives throughout the entire year. Want to know what it is? “I received a threatening call from the IRS. Is it a real call?” Simply answered…Absolutely not!
People are out to make a quick buck. It doesn’t matter who gets hurt, just as long as they get “their money”. It is very infuriating to realize how much this actually happens. Even though the news stations do a great job of covering this topic, there are still people out there that do not realize this is a scam. Another twist to this common scam is to convince you that the IRS owes you money. Either way, do not believe them!!
The very first thing to be aware of…the IRS will never call you as their first point of contact. And, they certainly will not threaten you with arrest or watching your property. The IRS Commissioner, John Koskinen, states, “Just because tax season is over, scams and schemes do not take the summer off. People should stay vigilant against IRS impersonation scams. People should remember that the first contact they receive from IRS will not be through a random, threatening phone call.”
There are certain things the IRS will never say over the phone. Here is a list of several things that they will not say:
- They will never call about money before you receive a bill via the USPS
- They will never demand payment over the phone
- They will never demand payment without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the situation
- They will never request your bank or credit card information over the phone
- They will never require you to pay in a specific way, such as a pre-paid debit card
- They will never threaten to send the police to arrest you
You just realize that the scammers will do their homework. They may have a lot of personal information that could make them sound legit, but it is important to realize that they are not legit. There is a lot of information that is available through social media and public records for anyone to get enough information to pull this scam off.
The scammers have formed another twist to this scam…sending an e-mail. Again, the IRS will contact you via USPS prior to any other form of contact. The only reason they might contact you via e-mail is if you have already spoken regarding correspondence that was received through the United States Parcel Service and you have agreed to continue further correspondence via e-mail.
What should you do if you receive a call or e-mail?
The very first thing you need to realize is that you should NEVER give out any information to an “IRS caller”. It is perfectly acceptable to hang up on the caller. In fact, the IRS recommends that you hang up on the caller.
The IRS recommends making two phone calls once you have received a call from a scammer. “Report the call to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, either online at IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting or by phone at 800-366-4484.” The second call is to “report the call to the Federal Trade Commission using the FTC Complaint Assistant”.
There is a list of phone numbers that have been used to make these calls. There is a list at this location. It is important to realize that this list is not a complete list. There are now ways to spoof phone numbers, so it could even come from what appears to be a local cell number.