Watch out for tax thieves this time of year… I don’t mean the folks at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The law allows them to take our money.
I’m talking about imposters who call you up claiming to be from the IRS.
According to fraud-awareness firm Fraud.org, tax season is prime time for thieves targeting taxpayers.
Last year, fake IRS fraudsters targeted more than 366,000 people with harassing phone calls demanding payments and threatening jail. Part of the largest nationwide tax scam in history.
These swindlers demand immediate payment using a prepaid debit card or a wire transfer via a service like Western Union or MoneyGram. (If you send money this way, it’s extremely difficult to trace the funds or get them back.)
And if you refuse or act uncertain, they’ll threaten you with arrest.
Worse, last year some of these callers even knew the last four digits of the taxpayer’s Social Security number, which made them appear more legitimate.
So this tax season, if you get a call from someone who claims to be from the IRS and threatens you with jail time, hang up immediately.
The IRS doesn’t initiate contact through the telephone. If you really owe money, it will send a notice in the mail first. And real IRS agents never demand immediate payment by credit card or wire transfer.
We had a tip from reader Dave in Tennessee. When receiving scam calls…
My solution is simple. I ask them to hold on, get my police whistle, and blow hard. They rarely call back and my unwanted calls have dropped off significantly.
Great suggestion, Dave.
All told, the Treasury Department has received nearly 900,000 reports of fraudulent IRS calls since October 2013.
But scam phone calls aren’t the only threat you have to worry about this tax season…
Thieves are also targeting folks by using stolen Social Security numbers to file early tax returns, directing your refund to their mailbox or bank account.
Unfortunately, there’s no way to know if someone has filed a fraudulent tax return in your name. If the IRS contacts you about filing multiple returns, immediately contact the IRS’ Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 1-800-908-4490.
And of course, if you withhold less on your paycheck, you can avoid tax theft by getting no tax return altogether. There’s no good reason to let the IRS hold your money.
- Extra details on the most common IRS-related tax scams via the IRS website.
- Many scammers today are calling your cell phone, not just your landline.
- Something different: The 2001 undercover investigation classic from Edmunds.com – confessions of a car salesman.