Tax scammers using false phone calls, phoney emails, and donations requests become more prevalent ahead of filing deadlines. The IRS issued an announcement on Sept. 27 to remind taxpayers to beware of scammers as the Oct. 15 filing deadline approaches.
Criminals use several different tactics to steal money and personal information from taxpayers. In the announcement, the IRS urges taxpayers to, “look out for suspicious phone calles, emails, and donations requests and take appropriate action.” The following are examples of tactics used by criminals to obtain information:
Scammers frequently pose as IRS employess to call victims, claiming that the victim has a tax debt. The caller will often threaten legal action or to call police or federal law enforcement if the debt is not immediately paid. Payment is frequently requested via prepaid debit cards or money wires. Additionally, the caller can alter the caller ID to make it appear as though the call is coming from emergency services or law enforcement. The IRS does not call taxpayers to demand immediate payment. If you have a tax debt, you will always have the right to appeal the amount in question. Scam phone calls can be reported to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration via website at TIGTA.gov or via email at email@example.com (Subject: IRS Phone Scam).
Another method used by scammers is phishing emails. Scammers will again pose as an IRS employee sending email featuring an IRS logo. Using agency language, scammers ask taxpayers to provide personal information. The email may also ask recipients to open an attachment or click on an embedded link under the guise of giving the recipient account access. Sometimes scammers employ a tactic known as “spear phishing” in which the criminal will have done research on the intended victim and will pose as a “trusted source.” If you believe you have received a phishing email, do not click on any links or attachments. The IRS does not communicate with taxpayers via email or social media. Any initial contact from the IRS will be through paper letter mailed by the U.S. Postal Service. You can report scam emails to the Treasury Inspector General by forwarding the email (preferably “as-is” and with full headers) to firstname.lastname@example.org.
One final scam to be aware of are fake charity donation requests. Scams in this category often pop up following a natural disaster. Criminals will create fake charities and solicit money by phone, email, and sometimes in person. Alternatively, the scammers may contact disaster victims and claim to be working with the IRS under the pretext of filing a casualty loss claim. Be wary of charities with names similar to nationally-known charity organizations. Qualified charities to whom donations may be tax deductible can be found through an IRS online search tool called the Tax Exempt Organization Search. For security and tax record purposes, the IRS recommends contribution by check or another way that provides documentation of a gift. If you believe you have been contacted by a fraudulent charitable organization, you can report the fraud activity by completing IRS Form 3949-A, Information Referral.
For more information about tax scams and how to protect yourself, click this link. Additionally, you can click here and search for, “scams and schemes.” RSM professionals take their responsibility to protect client information seriously. RSM professionals are available to help clients avoid these scams and schemes, and, if needed, help clients resolve any tax issues caused by them.