Across the country there has been a recent surge in attempted phone scams involving callers pretending to be IRS agents. We wanted to alert you and let you know what to do if you receive one of these calls.
Typically the scammers–who often use fake IRS badge numbers and may have the taxpayer’s Social Security number, home address, or other personal information–attempt to frighten the taxpayer into revealing personal information or sending money.
At Eilts & Associates, we have heard from several clients in the past week who were targeted by one of these scam attempts. In each case, the taxpayer received an automated voicemail from someone claiming to be from the IRS. The “agent” said the taxpayer had an outstanding lawsuit against him from the IRS and needed to call back and send money immediately.
Fortunately, our clients did not fall for the ruse, but many taxpayers around the country are not so lucky. In August the IRS reported that approximately 1,100 taxpayers had lost an estimated $5 million from these scams.
How to spot scams
If you receive a call or email from someone purporting to represent the IRS, here are several telltale ways to identify a fraud:
Sent by phone or email: The IRS never contacts taxpayers via phone or email. If the IRS wants to contact you about a tax matter, you will receive a letter in the mail.
Demands immediate payment: To frighten you and create a sense of urgency, the scammers will often demand immediate payment or request some other form of immediate action. The IRS will never do this.
Requires a specific payment method: The scammers often require that you send payment via a specific method, usually prepaid debit cards or gift cards. Or they may ask you to give your credit card number over the phone. The IRS never requires a specific payment method.
Threatens to bring in local law enforcement: The scammers may threaten to have the local police or sheriff arrest you if you don’t comply with the caller’s requests. Again, this is something the IRS would never do.
What to do if you’re a target
If you receive one of these calls or emails, the most important thing is to not respond. Never give your credit card or other personal information to a caller or emailer purporting to be an IRS agent. Don’t allow the callers to scare or threaten you. Also, you can report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 800.366.4484 or www.tigta.gov.
At Eilts & Associates, we are always available to help you deal with any issues involving the IRS—whether it’s the actual Internal Revenue Service or criminal impostors. If you receive a call, email, or letter that you suspect might be a scam, please contact us, and we will help you get to the bottom of it.