IRS Tax Scams

After being scammed (almost) by one of the bad guys myself, I learned just how easy it is to potentially fall for some of the tricks of the trade. After reading a recent IRS post on this topic, I figured why not share some of the scams that the less-than-honest folks who live among us are doing:

Phone Scams

This is the one where I almost got caught myself. And, I read about these scams.

Let me explain what happened. I think most of would agree that, unless it is a refund check, they really do not want to see a letter in their mailbox from the IRS. We ain’t saying they are bad….we just don’t consider them our pen pals!

Now, multiply that feeling anxiety when you receive a phone call from the IRS….or what you believe is from the IRS! Clear as day on my phone it says, “IRA Regional Office” and has a Seattle area code. What does one do? I let it got to voicemail and I received a scam voicemail to call the IRS immediately on a tax-related manner. I believe there was the usual, “please contact us before we contact the local authorities on this matter” (a sure tell-tale sign that it is a scam…but I was anxious!).

What do I do? I start the process to return the call! How dumb…I still can’t believe I did this. But the good news?! Something inside of me clicked and I immediately disconnected the call before it rang.

Phone Scams…Don’t feel Foolish!

The point is…almost anyone can fall for these tricks! I mean none of us think that bad guys are really going to manipulate the phone system to show that a call is coming from the IRS, when it is not…but, they did! Here are some things to look out for:

  1. A call presumably from the IRS that leaves a pre-recorded, threatening or “urgent” matter;
  2. The bad guys will leave that message saying that if you do not return the call, they will issue a warrant for your arrest (this is where I even said to myself, “wait, what…the IRS isn’t going to do that!”);
  3. And, like with what happened with me, it looks real. Who expects to see “IRS Regional Office” on their phone?!

If only bad guys could put some of their unique skills to the cause of good vs. evil, huh?!

Email Phishing Scams

We should all know the IRS does not initiate emails to us to request personal, tax or financial information. Most inquiries will go through the good ‘ol USPS. But, again, it is the shock factor.

While I have never received a fake email from the “IRS”, people receive and are told they need to clear up a matter. Common sense typically does not initially prevail and the instant thought is “why are they emailing me” or “what did I do?” However, as we all know, once we reply, they got us.

The IRS says:

  1. If you receive an email from the IRS, report it. If you receive such an email, you can forward it to: phishing@irs.gov. (by the way, another trick…the bad guys may use an email that has @irs.com, when we should always remember that the IRS is a government organization and any email would end in .gov.
  2. Realizing you might be tempted, do not click any links or open any attachments. Yes, common sense…but, let’s be honest, how many of us would initially be tempted to click!?

Clear Signs it’s a Scam

  1. Generally, IF the IRS wants to reach you, the IRS or one of its authorized private collection agencies will generally mail a bill to a taxpayer.
  2. The IRS will never call to demand immediate payment. They will not ask for a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer.
  3. If someone says to mail a check to a third party, this is a clear sign. You will never make checks payable to anyone or entity other than the US Treasury.
  4. Don’t be concerned about the police coming to get you. The IRS will not threaten you to immediately have the police pay you a visit.
  5. Demand payment without giving you, the taxpayer, the opportunity to appeal the decision related to the amount owed.

If you wish to subscribe to updates from the IRS, you can safely subscribe: https://www.irs.gov/e-file-providers/subscribe-to-updates

As always, the information provided is intended to be educational. It is not intended, nor should it be interpreted as, any form of tax, legal, financial or investment advice.