Tax season can be stressful enough without worrying about falling victim to a tax scam. Unfortunately, scammers are always looking for new ways to take advantage of unsuspecting taxpayers.
One common scam that has been around for years is the "IRS" phone scam. In this article, we'll take a closer look at this scam, discuss warning signs to watch out for, and provide tips on how to stay safe from it.
The "IRS" phone scam typically starts with a phone call from someone claiming to be an IRS agent. The caller will often have some personal information about the victim, such as their name and address, which can make the call seem more legitimate. The caller will then claim that the victim owes back taxes and threaten them with arrest, deportation, or other legal action if they don't pay immediately.
Here are some warning signs that the caller may be a scammer:
They demand immediate payment. The IRS will never demand immediate payment over the phone or ask for a specific payment method like a prepaid debit card, gift card, or wire transfer.
They threaten you with arrest or legal action. The IRS will never threaten to arrest or sue you for not paying your taxes.
They ask for personal information. The IRS already has your personal information on file, so they will never ask you to provide it over the phone.
They refuse to provide their badge number or other identifying information. Real IRS agents will always provide their badge number and a callback number so you can verify their identity.
So, what should you do if you receive a call from someone claiming to be from the IRS?
Here are some tips:
Hang up. Don't engage with the caller or provide any personal information.
Report the call to the IRS. You can call the IRS at 1-800-366-4484 to report the scam. You should also report the call to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at ftc.gov/complaint.
Educate yourself. The more you know about common tax scams, the better prepared you'll be to protect yourself. The IRS has a list of common scams on their website at irs.gov/newsroom/tax-scams-consumer-alerts.
Protect your personal information. Be cautious about giving out your personal information, especially over the phone or online. If you're unsure about a request for information, ask for more information about the caller or the company they represent.
In conclusion, the "IRS" phone scam is a common scam that preys on people's fear of the IRS and the consequences of not paying taxes. By being aware of the warning signs and following these tips, you can protect yourself from falling victim to this scam. Remember, if you're ever unsure about a call or request for information, it's always better to err on the side of caution and hang up.