IRS Phone Scams Continue Full Steam Ahead Post Tax Season
The night is dark and full of terrors. Well, this is true if by “night” George R. R. Martin meant filing your taxes. Back in February, when the IRS filing deadline was approaching for most peoples’ 2015 taxes and everyone was hard at work to avoid filing late, IRS scams were rampant, as was to be expected for the time. Yet, less expected, many of these scams have not abated in recent months and continue to claim a significant number of victims. Not only has the IRS recently released an additional publication on the topic, local police departments and the FBI have issued warnings in North Florida, Portland, Pennsylvania, New York, North California, and South California in recent weeks. In fact, based on the number of calls Barnes Law has received, it seems that these scams may be even more effective when people may not be as vigilant for malevolent scammers. During tax season, a letter or phone call from the IRS might be alarming, but not altogether unexpected. However, months after you’ve already filed your taxes and have stopped thinking about the IRS, a communication allegedly from the IRS takes on a different character.
By far, the most prevalent tax scam this year is phone callers impersonating IRS agents. Typical to this scam, an unsuspecting, usually older, taxpayer will receive a call from a man or woman who claims to be from the IRS and who informs the taxpayer that charges will soon be filed against them unless immediate payment is made. Often, if the taxpayer is reluctant or questions the caller, the caller uses… shall we say… more colorful language to intimidate the taxpayer into compliance. Furthermore, although phone scams have been around since the telephone was invented, these scammers are employing creative tactics to fool even savvy individuals. For example, scammers will provide a real name and use a legitimate IRS phone number and badge number; they may even know some of your personal information.
Fortunately if you know what to look for, these scams are easy to spot. First, the IRS will not make initial contact by phone. Unless you receive an official letter from the IRS, it is more than likely anyone saying they are from the IRS is a fraudster. Second, the IRS will never demand payment information over the telephone, or demand an immediate payment in a specific form. Third, you can always call the IRS to confirm that you owe taxes or confirm a communication is legitimate, as a matter of course.
Don’t stop staying alert just because tax season is over.
–By Tony Nasser, Esq., Barnes Law
Tony Nasser is an attorney licensed to practice law in California.
The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the firm, its clients, or any of its or their respective affiliates. This article is for general information purposes and is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal advice.