Tax season is here, and scammers are hard at work. The IRS has issued a scam alert for the 2016 tax filing season, warning that scammers are making phone calls with altered caller IDs and sending emails pretending to be tax officials.
These scammers often demand immediate payment, and often threaten you with arrest or criminal charges if you don’t pay immediately. Others will tell you that you are entitled to a refund and ask for your bank account information. They also leave Robo call “urgent” messages on your voicemail, urging you to call back as soon as possible.
Here are some things to be aware of:
• The IRS will never call and demand immediate payment over the phone
• The IRS will send you mail before ever calling you
• The IRS will never demand payment without giving you the opportunity to appeal the amount of taxes due
• The IRS will never ask for payment through debit and credit cards, or insist on a specific payment method
• The IRS will never threaten to call law enforcement if you don’t pay
In addition, the IRS will not initiate contact with you via email, text messaging, or social media. If you see such an email, be careful not to give over any personal information or click on any links in that email. These links often contain malware or viruses. The IRS has reported a 400 percent increase in such phishing schemes in the 2016 tax season.
Not all scammers will pretend to be from the IRS. Some will impersonate your place of work and ask for your W-2 information, including your Social Security number. Never give such information over the phone unless you are absolutely sure who you are communicating with.
If you do receive a call by someone you suspect of impersonating the IRS, contact the Treasury department to report it immediately. You can do that here. In addition, contact the FTC Complaint Assistant Service, which you can do on this webpage.