IRS fraud occurs when individuals with malicious intent impersonate representatives of the IRS or government agencies. These culprits engage in communications via telephone, text messages, electronic correspondence, or traditional mail with the aim of deceitfully coercing individuals into remitting funds for tax obligations or penalties that lack authenticity.
Such fraudulent activities are particularly rampant during the tax filing season, resulting in substantial monetary losses suffered by victims each year. To mitigate such risks, it is crucial to exercise caution. Provided herewith are delineations of recent IRS frauds, insights into methods of detection, and potentially applicable courses of action.
As per findings from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), a unique blend of deception dubbed “imposter fraud” left its mark on 17.16% of Americans, resulting in financial losses at the hands of crafty scammers. These scams led to people losing money, with the average person losing about $1,000. In total, these swindles cost Americans about $2.3 billion in 2021. And remember, these are just the cases that were reported to the authorities.
How the IRS Contacts Taxpayers?
The usual way the IRS gets in touch is through letters. They do not surprise you with random phone calls or rely on emails or text messages to connect with taxpayers. Letters are their primary means of communication.
10 Ways to Spot IRS Scams and Impersonators in the 2023-24 Tax Season:
- Unannounced Visits: While extremely rare, there might be instances where the IRS makes in-person visits to homes or businesses. However, recent changes in their approach mean that unannounced visits are highly unlikely.
- Initial Phone Calls: The typical way the IRS communicates is through traditional mail. If you get unexpected phone calls claiming to be from the IRS, be cautious.
- Voicemail Alerts: It’s important to note that the IRS does not send urgent or threatening voicemails. If you receive such voicemails, they could be part of a scam.
- Suspicious Emails: Be cautious of any emails asking for personal information. The official website of the IRS is IRS.gov. If you receive emails from other websites, they might not be genuine.
- Text Message Alerts: Legitimate IRS communication doesn’t happen through text messages. If you receive texts asking for personal or financial information, it’s a warning sign.
- Social Media Outreach: The IRS doesn’t reach out to individuals through social media to ask for personal or financial details. If someone claims to be the IRS on social media, be wary.
- Unverified Notices: You can verify the authenticity of IRS notices and letters on their official website. If you receive a notice that isn’t listed there, it’s a potential scam.
- Identification Check: Real IRS agents carry specific forms of identification. You can always call the IRS to verify their identity if you’re unsure.
- Phone Payment Requests: The IRS doesn’t ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone. If someone is pressuring you for this information, it’s likely a scam.
- Unconventional Payments: The IRS doesn’t accept payments in the form of gift cards or prepaid debit cards. Payments should be directed to the U.S. Treasury.
What to Do If You’re Contacted by a Possible Scammer?
If you receive any communication that claims to be from the IRS, here’s what you should do.
If you get an email claiming to be from the IRS, it’s fake. Don’t reply to the mail, click any links, or download attachments.
Required Action: Forward the mail to email@example.com
The IRS doesn’t text you. If you get a text, it’s a scam. Don’t call, reply, open links, or any attachments from the text message.
Required Action: Send the text to (202) 552-1226, then delete it.
If possible, message the IRS the fake text’s number.
Even if caller ID says IRS, area code shows Washington D.C. be cautious; the details can be faked. Do not share your personal information and reply that you will call back.
Required Action: Ask for the caller’s name and badge number.
Report the call to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.
Points to Remember-
- IRS won’t threaten to arrest or send police for taxes.
- Doubt letters asking for money; real payments are to “United States Treasury.”
- Scammers say pay now, dispute later; real IRS lets you dispute first.
- Check IRS.gov for notice details or call IRS directly to verify.
No one is immune to IRS-related scams, given the multitude of ways criminals can surreptitiously obtain personal data—ranging from hacking to social manipulation. Staying informed about these scams and their tactics can significantly reduce your vulnerability. Avoid sharing information in response to unexpected calls or emails.
Since new scams emerge frequently, trust your instincts if something seems suspicious. Refrain from engaging with individuals claiming to be associated with tax matters, and instead, directly reach out to the IRS through the official website, IRS.gov, if you have concerns. By reporting such incidents, you contribute to preventing others from falling victim in the future. Your report today might protect someone else tomorrow.
Tax1099 – An IRS-authorized eFile service provider makes 1099 compliance simple, accurate, and hassle-free. Sign Up Now & eFile 40+ Fed/State forms quickly and securely.