www.taxprofessionals.com - TaxProfessionals.com
Posted by Pat Raskob

The Latest IRS Scams: How to Spot and Fight Them

The Latest IRS Scams: How to Spot and Fight Them

Tax scams involve criminals posing as tax officials, other government officials, or debt collectors over the phone, online, or through the mail to trick you into sending money for taxes, fines, or fees that you should not.

People lose millions of dollars a year to tax scams. Don't be one of them. Here's a list of recent IRS scams to watch out for, tips on spotting one, and how to avoid them.

The latest tax scams

Have any of these events ever happened to you?

"We have recalculated your tax refund, and you must complete this form."

These scam emails display the official IRS logo and use clear subject lines such as "Tax Refund Payment" or "Tax Refund Payment Recalculation." It asks people to click on a link and provide their address, driver's license number, social security numbers, birthdays, and other important personal information to submit a bogus claim form.

"I'm from the FDIC and we need your bank details."

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation insures bank deposits, so consumers don't lose all their money if a bank fails. But they don't send unsolicited emails asking for bank account information, social security numbers, credit, and debit card numbers, money, sensitive personal information, or passwords. Criminals claiming to be from the FDIC are looking for information they can use to commit fraud or sell identities.

"We are calling to inform you that your identity has been stolen; you have to buy gift cards to fix it.'

In this scam, a criminal calls the victim and poses as a tax official. The criminal claims that the victim's identity was stolen and used to create fake bank accounts. The caller then tells the payer to buy some gift cards; the thief contacts you again and asks for the gift card access numbers.

"We will cancel your social security number."

In this scam, the scammer contacts the victim and claims they can suspend or cancel the victim's social security number.

"If taxpayers get a call threatening to suspend their social security number for unpaid taxes, they should drop the call immediately," the IRS said.

"It's the tax compliance office and we're placing a lien on your property."

There is no tax compliance office. Victims usually receive a letter from the fake agency stating they have a tax lien or levy and that they had better paid on time to the "Bureau of Tax Enforcement" or else.

"If you don't call us back, you'll be arrested."

Criminals can make a caller ID phone number appear to be from anywhere, including the IRS, local law enforcement, or another intimidating source. But the IRS does not leave pre-recorded voicemails, especially those claiming to be urgent or threatening. Also, the IRS cannot revoke your driver's license, work permit, or immigration status.

"Use this Form W-8BEN to provide us with personal information."

Although Form W-8BEN, called "Certificate of Foreign Status of Beneficiary for United States Tax Withholding," is a legitimate IRS form, criminals have modified the form to ask for personal information such as mother's maiden name, passport numbers, and PINs. 

"Click here to see some details about your tax return."

These emails trick the reader into clicking on links to a fake IRS-type website and exposing the user to malware. The IRS never emails taxpayers the status of tax refunds. 

"We are from the Taxpayer Advocate Service and we need more information."

The Taxpayer Advocate Service is a legitimate organization within the IRS that helps people get help with their problems with the IRS. But they don't call taxpayers for no reason. According to the IRS, criminals make the calls appear to come from the TAS office in Brooklyn or Houston. When taxpayers return the calls, which often tell victims they are entitled to a large tax refund, criminals ask for personal information such as their SSN.

"Click here to view the tax transcript."

In this scam, the scammers send an email with an attachment that they claim is the taxpayer's tax transcript. (A tax transcript summarizes a person's tax return.) Although tax transcripts are the real thing the IRS provides, the IRS does not email tax transcripts. You can apply directly to the Internal Revenue Service, and they will mail it to you.

How to Fight Back: How to Report Scams to the IRS

  • Forward emails claiming to be from the IRS to phishing@irs.gov. Do not open attachments or click on any links in these emails.

  • If IRS scams appear to be impersonating a state tax authority and not the IRS, contact your state attorney general's office.

  • Inform the General Treasury Inspectorate for Tax Administration (TIGTA). You can report IRS scams online or by calling TIGTA at 1-800-366-4484.

  • Report tax fraud to the Social Security Administration using the form on the Social Security Administration website.

  • Report to the Federal Trade Commission through the FTC Complaint Assistant on FTC.gov. Add "IRS Phone Scam" in the notes.



Pat Raskob
Contact Member