Every year people lose millions of dollars to IRS scams. These scams can happen any time of year but as we start a new year and start thinking more about filing our taxes what would normally be a red flag may look a little more normal. Here are a few key phrases that you might hear or read that should be a red flag…
– ‘We re-calculated your tax refund and you need to fill out this form’.
– ‘You need to pay a small fee to get your stimulus check’.
– ‘We’re calling from the FDIC and we need your bank information.’
– ‘We’ll cancel your Social Security Number.’
– ‘Click here to see some details about your tax refund.’
– ‘We’re from the taxpayer advocate service and we need some information.’
– ‘Click on this to see your tax transcript.’
– ‘You don’t need to sign your tax return even though we prepared it.’
In many of these examples clicking on a link in an email can lead you to a fake website that will save and store your personal information to be used by someone else. Illegitimate websites and email address can look deceptively similar to legitimate ones, perhaps with just one letter or period off. If you are not 100% sure who the contact is you should never click on links in emails.
Phone calls and Requests for Payment
There are very few instances in which the IRS will call you over the phone, but even then, the taxpayer will generally receive several letters or notices in the mail about the issue first. The IRS will not contact you via social media, email, a text message, or a pre-recorded voicemail. If you receive a call from the IRS but you never received a letter in the mail first it is probably not legitimate. The IRS will not ask you to pay them with gift cards or with pre-paid debit cards, they will also not ask for your credit card information over the phone. They will not threaten to revoke your drivers license, business license or arrest or deport you without giving you an opportunity to appeal any debt they claim you owe. All of the above things may seem farfetched but many scammers will use any or all of these tactics to try to scare or intimidate people into handing over their money or personal information.
If you are contacted by someone claiming to be the IRS you have a right to ask them to see or hear their credentials, real IRS agents have a HSPD-12 card., and you have the right to call the IRS yourself to verify the credentials. If you receive a call from the IRS or any other company requesting personal information (
bank, credit card company etc) and you are not sure if they are legitimate or not you can hangup and call their real phone number yourself and verify that they did call you.
For information about the IRS straight from the source you can go to IRS.gov . For more information about tips for spotting scams and how to report a scammer go to https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/taxes/avoid-irs-scams