TaxAlerts Tax Article
April 2016 | Written by: Charla Woods
The tax season, for many of us, is already over. We’ve entered in our data, signed our names on the dotted line, and shipped them off to the IRS, breathing a sigh of relief at being able to cross that dreaded task off our to-do lists. We’re in the clear now. Or are we?
It starts off innocently enough – a seemingly harmless phone call from a perfectly pleasant individual. They state they are from the IRS and are calling to let you know that they have your tax return and just want to verify some basic information with you. If you could just confirm your Social Security number or provide them with the account number where your refund will be deposited (or where your tax payments will be coming from), they would be happy to help expedite the processing of your tax return!
Unfortunately, this “good cop” routine is exactly what it takes to lure innocent taxpayers into giving scammers enough personal information to steal their identity or empty their bank accounts. In the past, tax scam artists have been known to be more on the aggressive side – bullying taxpayers over the phone into paying a fake tax bill by threatening them with arrest, deportation, etc. But now that the word has gotten out about such tactics, scammers are switching their course of action by pretending to be kindly, soft-spoken IRS agents that are simply here to help you. They may even go so far as to use IRS job titles and fictitious badge numbers to convince taxpayers of their “credibility.”
“These schemes continue to adapt and evolve in an attempt to catch people off guard just as they are preparing their tax returns,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “Don’t be fooled. The IRS won’t be calling you out of the blue asking you to verify your personal tax information or aggressively threatening you to make an immediate payment.”
So while tax season may have ended, scam artists are still working around the clock and the Internal Revenue Service continually encourages taxpayers to keep a vigilant eye out for anything that seems remotely suspicious. As a rule of thumb, do not give out any personal information over the phone or via email. If you have any doubts as to the credibility of the person calling you, disconnect the call and contact the IRS immediately.
For questions or more information about how to protect yourself from tax scammers, please visit IRS.gov.