IRS impersonators are responsible for extorting millions of dollars from American taxpayers annually. Here’s what you need to know to keep your money safe.
The Internal Revenue Service has issued warnings to taxpayers regarding the current growing threat of IRS scams. The deception begins with the classic phishing scam which then leads to tax-related fraud and identity theft.
Taxpayers, businesses and tax professionals are warned to keep a close eye out for attempts through fake emails, text messages, websites and social media to steal your private information. These types of attacks typically tend to increase over the tax season and are responsible for a steep rise in identity theft.
Authorities advise that thousands of people, from regular citizens to seasoned professionals lose millions of dollars each year as a result of IRS scam calls. According to a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) report, around one in five people who reported an incident in 2019 was involved in an imposter scam, which resulted in around $667 million being stolen from victims.
IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig warns that ‘Taxpayers should be on constant guard for these phishing schemes, which can be tricky and cleverly disguised to look like it’s the IRS.’
How to Spot Fake IRS Calls and Emails
There are certain circumstances where the IRS may contact a home or a business. According to the organization, if there is an overdue tax account, if a tax return was not filed, if payroll taxes for employees were not settled, or in cases of an audit or criminal investigation.
In these instances, however, taxpayers will receive initial notification from the IRS in the mail and payments will only be marked for the U.S Treasury. Therefore, if any of the following examples spring up, it should raise a red flag to exercise extreme caution:
Initial Request Begins with a Phone Call
The IRS first makes contact via mail and does not initiate contact with an indiscriminate phone call.
Keep an eye out for pre-recorded voicemails. The IRS does not engage in leaving pre-recorded, urgent or threatening voicemail messages.
Emails in Your Inbox
The IRS does not open the communication channels to request personal or financial information from taxpayers. If an email is received unexpectedly, do not open any attachments, click on any links or respond. In addition, keep in mind that the IRS’s website is a .gov domain and not IRS.com, IRS.net, IRS.org, or any other top-level domain.
Unexpected Texts or Social Media Messages
Contact with taxpayers is not initiated by the IRS via text or social media so it would be wise to delete any messages received in this manner.
Documentation Does Not Appear on IRS Website
If you receive documentation that claims to be from the IRS, you can verify its authenticity by visiting the IRS website to confirm that it matches what they have made available to the public.
What’s an HSPD-12 Card?
IRS agents have two forms of identification; a pocket commission and an HSPD-12 card. You have every right to request this information and can verify it by calling the IRS.
Requests for Bank Details
The IRS does not ask for any credit card or debit card information over the phone. If someone calls you unexpectedly and requests this information, hang up. It’s a scam!
Unusual Payment Methods
If someone calls and claims to represent the IRS and asks you to settle your taxes with gift cards, iTunes cards or prepaid debit cards, you can be sure it’s a scam. The IRS posts paper bills to taxpayers who owe taxes. In addition, taxes should be paid to the U.S. Treasury only and never to third-party collection agencies.
You Talkin’ to Me?
Threats of arrest, deportation or having a business or driver’s license revoked should be an immediate giveaway as the IRS does not have the authority to make such a claim. In addition, the Taxpayer Bill of Rights gives all taxpayers the opportunity to question and appeal an amount owing on your tax account.
How Do You Report a Fake IRS Call?
How to stop fake IRS phone calls? The IRS and other agencies rely on citizens to report IRS scam phone calls to track trends and issue warnings to the general public. The following are a few ways you can report a scam depending on how the communication was received:
IRS scams received in the mail can simply be forwarded to [email protected]. Remember not to download any attachments or click on any links.
You can contact the Treasury Department and report IRS scam calls by calling them on 1-800-366-4484.
Texts can be forwarded to (202) 552-1226. It is also a good idea to send a follow-up message noting the phone number from which the text was sent.
What About Recovering My Funds?
Criminals are constantly working on new techniques to scam individuals. Anyone can become a victim at any time. However, if you know what to look out for and remain vigilant, the chances of you falling victim to a scam rapidly decrease.
In addition, if you are seeking to recover your funds, you can contact MyChargeBack. We are a financial services firm specializing in complex dispute resolution. Working with over 800 banks worldwide, we have assisted clients on every continent recover millions of dollars in assets that they thought they lost for good.