We've all heard how criminals impersonating IRS agents threaten various actions to relieve you of money you supposedly owe the government.
Now, however, they have started making phone calls claiming they're trying to verify tax return information. Claiming that they already have your tax return, these crooks say they just need to verify a few details to process your return. In the process, they try to get you to give up personal information such as your Social Security number, bank numbers, or credit cards. Consumers receiving these calls should be on guard.
“These schemes continue to adapt and evolve in an attempt to catch people off guard just as they are preparing their tax returns,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “Don’t be fooled. The IRS won’t be calling you out of the blue asking you to verify your personal tax information or aggressively threatening you to make an immediate payment.”
What the IRS will not do
According to the IRS, many of the claims that scammers make are simply not within the organizations protocol. Here are some things the agency will never do:
- Call to demand immediate payment over the phone, or call about taxes owed without first having mailed you several bills.
- Call or email you to verify your identity by asking for personal and financial information.
- Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
- Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
- Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone or e-mail.
- Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
What to do
If a consumer receives a phone call from a suspected scammer, the IRS recommends that they:
- Do not give out any information and hang up immediately.
- Contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration to report the call. Use their “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” web page. You can also call 800-366-4484.
- Report it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on FTC.gov. Add “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.
If you know you owe, or think you may owe, tax money, you can:
- Call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS workers can help you.
- Stay alert to scams that use the IRS as a lure. Tax scams can happen any time of year, not just at tax time. For more, visit “Tax Scams and Consumer Alerts” on IRS.gov.