The phone caller recites his IRS badge number.
Then he demands immediate payment of “overdue taxes” by wire transfer or debit card.
Fail to pay, he warns, and you will be arrested.
Or lose your license. Or be deported.
And absolutely untrue.
Yet this scenario is repeated often enough that it made the top of the IRS’s Dirty Dozen Tax Scams.
How tax scam works
Scammers provide just enough to suggest they are real:
- a badge number (made up);
- a call back number (spoofed to look real); and
- some part of your Social Security number.
The scammers’ goal may be money or it may be identity theft. But too many folks are too scared to resist.
What you need to know about tax collectors
Tax scammers prey on victims because the IRS has a reputation and because most folks don’t know the tax collection procedures.
Genuine tax collectors always start with the US mail. You get a letter, a notice, or a demand from the IRS.
Almost without exception, you get many of these written efforts to get in touch with you, or to get a payment before they resort to coercive collection efforts.
Except in cases of fraud, we don’t arrest people for not paying taxes.
And in my experience, you can’t get the IRS to use email, even when it would facilitate the matter at hand.
So, calls out of the blue from the IRS are assuredly fake.
When scammers call
Guard your identity as closely as your money. The scammer may really be looking for you to provide enough information that he can steal from you later.
The IRS suggests if you owe taxes, or think you might owe taxes, call the real IRS at 800-829-1040 . Genuine government employees can determine if you really owe taxes and help work out a payment plan.
If you’re certain you don’t owe taxes, start by calling the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484. Report the crime.
If the tax debt is real
If real tax problems made this scam oh-so-real for you, consider getting some professional help to assess your options. CPA’s and Enrolled Agents can assist you to work out settlement options.
Don’t wait for the gut wrenching call from scammers to get moving on tax troubles.
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