IRS Scams

Have you ever received a phone call from a person claiming to be part of the IRS? Or maybe even an email with the IRS logo alerting you that money is due with a quick link at the bottom to submit your payment? If so, you could possibly be one of the many individuals that scammers are targeting in order to steal money. This week’s Tax Update focuses on what some of the scams look like, and what you should do if you encounter one. 

One of the most common scams that take place across the country are IRS impersonation telephone calls. These instances arise when an individual calls claiming to be an employee of the IRS and aggressively demands payment for tax dollars that are due or past due. These impersonators will often try to scare their targets with threats of arrest, deportation, or suspension of a driver’s license. 

Generally, most people have a fear of the IRS and can tend to cooperate when targeted by impersonation calls. This fear is further enhanced by the fact that scammers are becoming more sophisticated with their impersonations by utilizing fake IRS identification badge numbers and even altering the caller ID to give the appearance that the IRS is the one dialing. In addition, the scammers may know or have a lot of information on the people that they are targeting to make the act even more authentic and believable. 

According to the IRS website, the IRS will never: 

  • Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as 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. 

Another common scam that takes place is called phishing. This scam involves sending fake emails to targets, that appear to be from the IRS. Often these emails will contain the IRS name and logo in an effort for scammers not only to attempt to steal money but private information as well. The content of the message could be a variety of subjects including taxes due, refunds, filing status, confirming personal information, ordering transcripts, and verifying PIN information. 

In addition, many phishing emails will contain a link at the bottom that will direct users to a fake IRS website that looks identical to the official site. The IRS saw a 400% surge in phishing and malware incidents in the 2016 tax season. The IRS does not initiate taxpayer communications through email. Unsolicited emails claiming to be from the IRS, or from an IRS-related component such as EFTPS, can be reported to the IRS at phishing@irs.gov. 

One of the more recently seen scams involves “spoofing” which is a form of phishing. The IRS reported this past January that cybercriminals are attempting to acquire employee forms W-2 from company payroll or human resources departments via fake emails. These messages will contain the actual name of a corporate officer to give the appearance that he or she is the one requesting the company payroll documents. This particular scam was first noticed last year as numerous payroll and human resource officials were tricked into giving employee names, social security numbers, and income information. 

These are a few of the many IRS tax scams that are being utilized. One of the first steps to prevent being a victim is becoming more aware of the methods cybercriminals are using and the common tactics of the scams. Incidents can be reported the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484. 

 

BGBC Partners, LLP is a full service certified public accounting and business consulting practice.