A voice mail from a caller claiming to be with the IRS states that you are delinquent on your income taxes and demands you to call back and make payment over the telephone or else face fines and possible jail time.
A call in the middle of the night tells you that your grandson is in trouble and you need to send money now for his bail. And don't tell his parents!
A convincing caller informs you that you have just won $100,000 in a foreign lottery but that you need to send $5,000 to claim your prize.
Three different scams, but two things in common. They prey on peoples' fear or greed. Over the past several years, we have had clients and friends fall victim to all three of these scams, resulting in the loss of tens of thousands of dollars and strong feelings of shame and embarrassment for having been deceived. Over the last two weeks, we have had 3 incidences of the IRS scam. Fortunately, the only loss was that of sleep until the clients could talk with us the next day.
So, let's talk a little about the IRS phone scam.
The IRS has had over 90,000 complaints about the IRS phone scam, and has identified over 1,100 victims who have lost an estimated $5 million.
According to the IRS:
- The IRS's first contact with taxpayers will be written correspondence delivered through US mail.
- The IRS will never ask for credit card, debit card or prepaid card information over the telephone.
- The IRS will never insist that a taxpayer use a specific payment method to pay tax obligations.
- The IRS will never request immediate payment over the telephone.
What to do if you receive one of these calls:
If you know that you owe Federal Income Taxes (meaning you have filed your income tax returns and had a balance due that you did not pay) but have not received any correspondence from the IRS, don't panic. Hang up the call (or don't return the voice message) and call the IRS at 800.829.1040 to help resolve your payment issue. You can also call us to review your situation and options.
If you don't believe you owe Federal Income Taxes, hang up the call (or don't return the voice message) and report the incident to TIGTA (Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration) at 800.366.4484.
Some additional basics:
- Never give account information or your social security number over the telephone to someone you don't know and trust.
- Never be coerced into making a payment by telephone by a caller demanding that you do so and threatening you if you do not. HANG UP the call! If you are frightened, tell a friend or someone you trust. If they are not available, call or email us (hopefully you will consider us both a friend and someone you can trust).
- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If you never bought a ticket for the Irish Sweepstakes it is VERY unlikely that you won.
- If a caller tells you not to tell anyone else about making the payment that the caller wants, HANG UP! Tell someone that you just received such a call.