Yes, I’ve written about this before, but we continue to receive information that phone scammers are posing as the IRS and other tax related scams are still at it and still having success. So it seems prudent to put out another warning to help keep my clients and fellow small business owners safe. And if you think it they won’t try to con you, think again. Just recently a business associate who is a small business owner received a threatening robocall. He’s a pretty savvy guy and was pretty sure it was a scam. But these scammers are professional. They have pretty convincing and scary tactics that can trick even the savviest business owner. Fortunately, he did the right thing and checked it out to confirm it was a bogus call.
To date this year the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) has received 90,000 complaints through its telephone hotline and identified approximately 1,100 victims who have lost an estimated $5 million from these scams. It is very likely the real numbers are much higher.
So be on guard against these scammers. Here is a quick rundown of tips to stay alerted and avoid becoming a victim. Please share with friends and family, especially those who might be more likely to fall for some of these unscrupulous tactics.
The IRS will not call you out of the blue. The IRS always initiates contact through official correspondence sent through the mail. Any call from someone claiming to be from the IRS who uses angry, threatening language and urges immediate payment is highly suspect and is almost certainly a scammer. This is not how the IRS operates. If you receive such a call, you should hang up immediately.
Also, know that the IRS will never;
• Ask for a credit card, debit card, or prepaid card information over the telephone.
• Insist that taxpayers use a specific payment method to pay tax obligations.
• Request immediate payment over the telephone.
• Take enforcement action immediately following a phone conversation. Taxpayers usually receive prior written notification of IRS enforcement action involving IRS tax liens or levies.
As I mentioned, these scammers are professional and use sophisticated tactics. Remember, they are often successful. Otherwise, they wouldn’t keep trying.
Some of the ways scammers can come across as legitimate to help trick taxpayers include;
• Use fake names and IRS badge numbers. In general, they use common names and surnames to identify themselves.
• Recite the last four digits of a victim’s Social Security number. Make sure you do not provide the rest of the number or your birth date… that is information ID thieves can use to make your life miserable.
• Spoof, the IRS toll-free number on caller ID, to make it appear that it’s the IRS calling.
• Send bogus IRS e-mails to support their bogus calls.
• After threatening victims with jail time or driver’s license revocation, scammers hang up, and others soon call back pretending to be from the local police or DMV, and the caller ID supports their claim.
I just have to think – wouldn’t it be easier to get a real job?
Bottom line – if you receive a call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, hang up. If you receive an email, don’t click, don’t reply. Delete.
If you wish to help the government combat these scams, forward the e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
And there is more. This is not the only scam currently making the rounds; you should be aware that there are other, unrelated, scams (such as a lottery sweepstakes), solicitations (such as debt relief) that fraudulently claim to be from the IRS and another to be profiled on CBS involving stolen IDs and a Tax Refund scam. Please be vigilant and when in doubt, please call this office.