IRS Warns of New Twist on Phone Scams

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Your tax information can be especially useful to identity theft scammers. These criminals often seek to fool unsuspecting taxpayers with telephone impersonation ploys in an attempt to obtain sensitive information.

 

The IRS recently warned taxpayers of a new twist in which criminals fake calls from the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS). In this scam, criminals "spoof" the telephone number of a TAS office in Houston or Brooklyn. Calls may be robo-calls requesting a callback. Once the taxpayer returns the call, the criminal requests personal information, such as Social Security numbers.

 

The IRS reminded the public that TAS does not initiate calls or reach out to taxpayers unless they themselves have first contacted TAS for help. The Service further informed taxpayers that this is only one of many current telephone impersonation scams which have some common characteristics: 

 

  • Scammers use fake names and IRS badge numbers to identify themselves.
  • Scammers may know the last four digits of the taxpayer's Social Security number.
  • Scammers spoof, or fake, caller IDs to make the phone number appear as if the IRS or another local law enforcement agency is calling.
  • Scammers may send bogus IRS emails to victims to support their bogus calls.
  • Victims hear background noise of other calls to mimic a call site.
  • Scammers may threaten victims with jail time, or driver or professional license revocation.

 

Any of these clues are tell-tale signs of a scam. In addition, the Service reminded taxpayers that it does not demand payment by a specific method, without the opportunity to question or appeal the amount taxpayers owe, nor threaten to bring in law enforcement to have taxpayers arrested for not paying taxes. If you suspect you are the victim a fraudulent telephone call, do not give out any information and hang up immediately. The IRS has requested that taxpayers report IRS-related fraudulent calls to phishing@irs.gov, with the subject line "IRS Phone Scam."

 

The IRS is not the only tax agency these criminals may impersonate. For example, the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance recently issued an alert of its own called "Don't Be Victimized by Scam Tactics this Filing Season."

 

Be alert to these scams. Never reveal any information to a stranger over the phone. If you are unsure of your current financial obligations, your LMC professional can help determine if you actually owe any tax.

 

All our prior Alerts are available on the Updates page of our website.

 

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