Authored By: Office of Consumer Protection (OCP)
IRS Phone Scams:
This scam has been called the largest of its kind, and has targeted taxpayers across the country. Victims have reported threats of license suspension, arrest and deportation.
What makes this scam so tricky? The scammers impersonate Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agents and demand payment for taxes owed, and often:
• Know the last four digits of the victim’s Social Security number;
• Make caller ID appear as if the IRS is calling;
• Send follow-up bogus IRS emails to support their scam
Scammers often claim to be government officials from other agencies threatening arrest and attempt to scare you into releasing financial information.
Know that the IRS usually contacts people by mail, not by phone, about unpaid taxes. The IRS won’t ask for payment using a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer, nor will they involve law enforcement or immigration agencies. If you or a family member receives one of these calls, your best bet is to hang up. But if you do get into a conversation, don’t give anyone money or credit card information over the phone and don’t trust callers who use threats or insults to bully you. If you owe or think you owe federal taxes, call the IRS directly at 1-800-829-1040 to verify information.
Report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1-800-366-4484. You may also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov. Add "IRS Telephone Scam" to the comments in your complaint.
IRS E-mail Scams:
Beware of e-mails purporting to be from the IRS or the U.S. Department of Treasury. Scam artists use tax season to phish for all sorts of personal information, including social security numbers, bank account numbers, pin numbers, names, birthdates, and other valuable information. These e-mails are often convincingly realistic, with government seals and intimidating language. Sometimes the e-mails will even ask the recipient to wire money in order to pay off “fines” or other fees. The e-mail may redirect the recipient to a website which is designed to look like a legitimate government website, but is in fact a fake site used by scammers to steal more information. The actual IRS does not solicit your personal information through e-mail. In fact, they already have your personal information.
The real IRS website is www.irs.gov.
Some outfits send letters to taxpayers that appear to be official IRS documents warning citizens that the federal government has attached a lien on their home or levied other kinds of fines for failing to pay taxes. In small print, these documents disclose that the sender is not the IRS, but an entity that can help you deal with the IRS. These mailers are misleading and fail to inform taxpayers that free, local help is available in many Montana communities for taxpayers with questions. Often times, this free help is offered regardless of income level. Other programs are available only to lower and middle-income taxpayers.