Planning matters

Scammers Ramp Up their Efforts during Tax Season

Telephone calls and e-mails from scammers claiming to be from the IRS are common throughout the year, but especially during tax season. Judging from the telephone calls we receive from concerned clients, the scammers are already in full force this tax season.

Receiving a telephone call from the IRS is a scary thing! However, there is only one thing that you need to remember: the IRS will not call you out of the blue.

Telephone calls and e-mails purportedly from the IRS are most certainly NOT from the IRS. The IRS never initiates contact with taxpayers via telephone or e-mail or text or Facebook. If you truly have a tax issue, the IRS will contact you via good, old-fashioned US mail. They will not call you, they will not e-mail you, they will not threaten you, they will not send out the sheriff to arrest you, they will not put a lien on your house, nor will they drain your bank account.

Did I mention that the IRS will not call you out of the blue?

What to do?

  • Report suspicious e-mails to the IRS: Forward the e-mail to phishing@irs.gov. Phishing means using fake e-mails and websites to lure unsuspecting victims into giving out their personal information.
  • Delete the suspicious e-mail.
  • Ask for the caller’s name, badge number, callback number and Caller ID, if available. Call the IRS at 1-800-366-4484 to verify that the person is an IRS employee who has a legitimate reason for calling you. A real IRS employee will not mind verifying his or her identity and status as an IRS employee. If the person is an IRS employee, call them back.
  • Hang up the phone. Many scammers are persistent and will call you back repeatedly. That’s a good sign that they are not really calling from the IRS. You may be able to block calls from that number, but don’t be surprised if the scammers try again from different telephone numbers.
  • Report suspicious phone calls to TIGTA (https://www.treasury.gov/tigta/contact_report_scam.shtml) and send an e-mail with the subject line: IRS Phone Scam to phishing@irs.gov.
  • Take down the caller’s information, and give it to your tax professional, who should be able to tell you if it is legitimate or not.

What NOT to do?

  • Don’t be afraid. Many of the phone calls and e-mails are very threatening, but remember: these people are crooks and are trying to scare you.
  • Don’t give out your personal information. The IRS already knows your personal information and will not call you to verify it.
  • Do NOT reply to suspicious e-mails or open any attachments.

Did I mention that the IRS will not call you out of the blue?

Honestly, that’s all you need to remember, but the IRS lists 5 Easy Ways to Spot Suspicious Calls on their website: https://www.irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/Scam-Phone-Calls-Continue;-IRS-Identifies-Five-Easy-Ways-to-Spot-Suspicious-Calls.