February 11, 2016
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) continues to warn taxpayers to guard against sophisticated and aggressive phone scams targeting taxpayers, as reported incidents of this crime continue to rise nationwide. Each year, millions of individuals have their identities stolen, and these phone scams are yet another opportunity for potential identity theft to occur.
It is important to remember that the IRS follows certain procedures that are designed to protect the privacy of taxpayers and does not initiate contact with taxpayers via phone or email asking for personal or financial information. As such, it is essential that you always be alert to potential identity theft if you receive a call or email from someone claiming to be an IRS agent or a member of the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) of the IRS.
What is the typical scenario for these scam calls?
The IRS has noted a few patterns in these calls, emails, and other vehicles for fraud:
- Scammers use fake names and IRS badge numbers. They generally use common names and surnames to identify themselves.
- Scammers may recite the last four digits of your Social Security number.
- Scammers “spoof” or imitate the IRS toll-free number on caller ID to make it appear that it’s the IRS calling.
- Scammers sometimes send bogus IRS emails to potential victims to support their bogus calls.
- Potential victims sometimes hear background noise of other calls being conducted to mimic a call center.
- After threatening potential victims with jail time or a driver’s license revocation, scammers hang up; others soon call back pretending to be from the local police or Department of Motor Vehicles, and the caller ID supports their claim.
What should I do if I receive one of these scam calls?
If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, hang up immediately and do not, under any circumstances, provide any information over the phone to the caller. If you are not sure whether you have a legitimate tax issue outstanding, you can contact the IRS directly at 1-800-829-1040, or if you prefer, you can contact your CPA for assistance.
Where do I go if I think I have been the victim of this scam?
If you have received a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS or the CID, report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 1-800-366-4484 or report online at https://www.treasury.gov/tigta/contact_report_scam.shtml . If you’ve been targeted by this scam, you should also contact the Federal Trade Commission and use their “FTC Complaint Assistant” at FTC.gov and add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments of your complaint.
In addition to notifying TIGTA and FTC Complaint Assistant, contact your CPA as soon as possible if you have been the target of this type of fraud. You should also contact your CPA if you have general questions about safeguarding your identity and financial interests during tax season.
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