IRS Warns of Surge in Tax Scams

Tax filing season has been over for several months, but that has not stopped the scammers from trying to fraudulently impersonate the IRS. In fact, during the summer, the IRS reported a surge in phone-related scams, and in late September, they sent a consumer alert warning that there has been a surge in email, phishing and malware schemes as well.

It is important to note that the scammers have become more sophisticated, using advanced technology to cast a much wider net than they were doing previously. IRS commissioner John Koskinen had this to say about the summer surge in phone scams:

It used to be that most of these bogus calls would come from a live-person. Scammers are evolving and using more and more automated calls in an effort to reach the largest number of victims possible.

The scammers are no longer just targeting vulnerable segments of the population such as the elderly or recent immigrants, either. They are now coming after everybody. Through the use of robocalls and auto-dialers, they are able to leave thousands of messages per day in hopes that a certain percentage will return their calls.

Here is an example of what a scam phone message might say:

Hello, this call is an official notice from the Internal Revenue Service informing you that the IRS is taking legal action against you for the collection of unpaid tax debt. For additional information about this case file, please contact our office immediately at 1-XXX-XXX-XXXX. I repeat, 1-XXX-XXX-XXXX. This is your final notice. Thank you!

Those who call back the scammers are usually told that they owe some type of bogus tax. Two of the most recent are the fictional Federal Student Tax, and a bogus tax owed on an ITunes card or another type of gift card. Even human resources professionals have been targeted to “review” W2 information on employees.

Whatever strategy the scammers use, the end goal is always the same; to gather as much data as possible, so they can have access to your financial information and steal your money. This is why they will almost always insist on payment over the phone, even if it is a relatively small amount of money in question.

How to Avoid Being a Victim of an IRS Scam

We have written about this before, but it is always good to review IRS procedures so you do not fall victim to one of these scammers. When it comes to interacting with taxpayers, there are several things the IRS will NEVER do, including: Initiate contact with taxpayers by phone or email without first mailing out a bill;Threaten to have you arrested for not paying your taxes;

  • Initiate contact with taxpayers by phone or email without first mailing out a bill;
  • Threaten to have you arrested for not paying your taxes;
  • Demand payment of taxes without giving you the right to question the amount and/or file an appeal;
  • Force you to use a specific method of payment, such as a credit card, debit card, or check by phone.

If you receive a phone call or email from an IRS impersonator, DO NOT engage the scammer. NEVER return emails or click on any links within the body of the email. Instead, forward the emails to If you receive a live phone call, hang up immediately. And for all live calls and recorded messages, it is best to report them directly to the IRS by calling 1-800-366-4484.

Many people fall for IRS scams because they believe they might actually owe taxes. You can verify that directly with the IRS by calling 1-800-829-1040. But before calling the agency, it might be best to review your tax returns with your accountant. Your accountant can check over your information to determine if there is anything you should be concerned about, and advise you on the best strategies for limiting your tax liability.Crime_Scam_Danger_Fraud_MI

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