The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is advising people to exercise caution when speaking to anyone claiming to be a tax agent on the phone. Many times, said the IRS in its annual “Dirty Dozen” list of tax-related scams, the person on the other end of the phone is a scam artist trying to gain access to the victim’s private financial information.
At the top of the list of tax schemes commonly perpetrated by criminals is the placement of aggressive phone calls by scammers who pretend to be IRS agents. The scam artists often threaten the victim with arrest by law enforcement or legal action requiring a court appearance if the victim doesn’t comply with the caller’s requests for information and/or transfers of money.
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said that far too many U.S. taxpayers are being preyed on by aggressive phone scammers. Koskinen warned people not to be fooled by callers who pretend to be IRS agents or affiliated with the federal tax agency in some other way. Koskinen added that “if you’re surprised to be hearing from us, then you’re not hearing from us.”
This particular scam is one of many that the federal government is warning people about. Since it is currently tax filing season, these scams are occurring with some frequency. Last month, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration released shocking data on the number of over-the-phone tax scams that have been committed since October 2013: nearly 900,000 contacts were made, resulting in 5,000 victims who lost more than $26 million to the scammers.
The staggering amount of fraud being committed, particularly around tax time, is one reason why the IRS recently issued its “Dirty Dozen” list of common tax scams that U.S. taxpayers can fall victim to. Most of the scams have certain telltale signs. For example, the callers often demand immediate payment from the victim – something that the IRS will never do over the phone. Beyond that, the IRS will normally provide a taxpayer with an opportunity to appeal the amount owed.
For more information about tax fraud scams, read the IRS Bulletin, “Phone Scams Continue to Be a Serious Threat, Remain on IRS ‘Dirty Dozen’ List of Tax Scams for the 2016 Filing Season.”
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