IRS Warns Taxpayers of Potential Tax Scams

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In recent years, thousands of people have lost millions of dollars and their personal information to tax scams and fake IRS communications. It is important to know that the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or social media channels to request personal or financial information. In addition, the IRS does not threaten taxpayers with lawsuits, imprisonment or other enforcement action. Knowing this will make you aware of phishing or a tax scam that could prevent you or a family member from tax fraud or identity theft.

 

Telephone Scams

 

There has been an increase in people impersonating IRS employees via phone. These impersonators generally tell victims that they owe money and that they need to pay the IRS right away over the phone to avoid penalty or an arrest. They may also mention that you are owed a refund and they request personal banking information.

 

Please note that the IRS will never:

 

  • Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail you a bill if you owe any taxes.
  • Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
  • Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

 

Email, Phishing Schemes

 

When identity theft takes place over the web (email), it is called phishing. The IRS has issued several alerts about the fraudulent use of the IRS name or logo by scammers trying to gain access to consumers’ financial information in order to steal their identity and assets. Scammers use the regular mail, telephone, fax or email to set up their victims.

 

Scam emails can seek information related to refunds, filing status, confirming personal information, ordering transcripts and verifying PIN information. Sometimes the email will direct you to a link that appears to be an official IRS website. The sites ask for Social Security numbers and other personal information, which could be used to help file false tax returns. The sites also may carry malware, which can infect people's computers and allow criminals to access your files or track your keystrokes to gain information. Please be aware that these emails are not from the IRS. The IRS never sends emails to taxpayers regarding their information.

 

Fake Charities

 

The IRS also warns taxpayers about groups masquerading as charitable organizations to attract donations from unsuspecting contributors. Before donating your hard-earned money, it is essential that taxpayers take the time to research organizations.

 

The IRS offers these basic tips to taxpayers making charitable donations:

 

  • Be wary of charities with names that are similar to familiar or nationally known organizations. Some phony charities use names or websites that sound or look like those of respected, legitimate organizations. IRS.gov has a search feature, Exempt Organizations Select Check, which allows people to find legitimate, qualified charities to which donations may be tax-deductible. Legitimate charities will provide their Employer Identification Numbers (EIN), if requested, which can be used to verify their legitimacy through EO Select Check. It is advisable to double check using a charity's EIN.
  • Don’t give out personal financial information, such as Social Security numbers or passwords, to anyone who solicits a contribution. Scam artists may use this information to steal identities and money from victims. Donors often use credit cards to make donations. Be cautious when disclosing credit card numbers. Confirm that those soliciting a donation are calling from a legitimate charity.
  • Don’t give or send cash. For security and tax record purposes, contribute by check or credit card or another way that provides documentation of the gift.

 

We encourage you to stay alert and be aware of these types of tax scams during the upcoming tax season. If you receive a phone call, hang up right away. If you receive an email from the “IRS”, put it in the trash as it is fraudulent. If you have any questions or concerns about tax fraud please feel free to call our office.

 

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