Beware! Someone wants to steal your income tax refund.
And some of the worst scams are being conducted over the telephone. While tax scams can and do occur year-round, the peak time is when people are filing their income tax returns.
Telephone scams have increased nationwide with callers pretending to be either IRS agents or IRS representatives. Forbes reports that the calls have only one purpose: to steal your money or your identity.
The Internal Revenue Service warns there are several variations on the scheme. For example, the caller may say the victim owes money or is entitled to a large refund. Some callers even threaten the victim with arrest.
The IRS has noted distinct patterns in these calls:
- Scammers use fake names and IRS badge numbers. They generally use common names and surnames to identify themselves.
- Scammers may be able to recite the last four digits of a victim's Social Security number.
- Scammers "spoof" or imitate the IRS toll-free number on caller ID to make it appear that it's the IRS calling.
- Scammers sometimes send bogus IRS emails to some victims to support their bogus calls.
- Victims hear background noise of other calls being conducted to mimic a call site.
- After threatening victims with jail time or a driver's license revocation, scammers hang up and others soon call back pretending to be from the local police or DMV, and the phone number on the caller ID supports that claim.
What can you do? You have two options, depending on your situation.
1. If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and you have a legitimate tax issue outstanding, call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040.
2. If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and you know you don't owe taxes, report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 1-800-366-4484.
Always remember this: If the IRS has a question or concern, it will ONLY contact you through a letter sent via the U.S. Postal Service. The IRS will never contact you by telephone or email.
--From the Editors at Netscape