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IRS Warns of Continued Scams, Varied Tactics as the Tax Deadline Nears

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IRS Warns of Continued Scams, Varied Tactics as the Tax Deadline Nears

IR-2016-62, April 13, 2016

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today issued a warning that scammers may try using the April 18 tax deadline to prey on hard-working taxpayers by impersonating the IRS and others with fake phone calls and emails. Even after the tax deadline passes, taxpayers should know the telltale signs of a scam and tips to protect themselves from a variety of phone scams and phishing emails.

"We’ve seen continuing activity in these scams throughout the filing season," said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. "As the tax deadline nears, these criminals may try and trick honest taxpayers over the phone or via email, and people should remain vigilant. After the tax deadline, watch out for these scammers promising a refund or threatening you with an unexpected tax bill."

These scam artists frequently masquerade as being from the IRS, a tax company and sometimes even a state revenue department. By email, they try enticing people to click on links in official-looking messages containing questions related to their "tax refund." Report these emails to phishing@irs.gov. By phone, many scammers use threats to intimidate and bully people into paying a "tax bill." They may even threaten to arrest, deport or revoke the driver’s license of their victim if they don’t get the money.

Variations of these scams can be seen nationwide, and it’s more important than ever to be cautious with providing personal or financial information. As part of the effort to protect taxpayers, the IRS has teamed up with state revenue departments and the tax industry to make sure taxpayers understand the dangers to their personal and financial data as part of the “Taxes. Security. Together” campaign.   

Some examples of the varied tactics seen this year are:

  • Soliciting W-2 information from payroll and human resources professionals (see news release IR-2016-34)

  • “Verifying” tax return information over the phone (IR-2016-40)

  • Pretending to be from the tax preparation industry (IR-2016-28

    There are some important reminders for taxpayers nationwide about these schemes.

    Watch Out for Threatening Phone Calls

    Beware of scammers making unsolicited calls claiming to be IRS officials. They demand that the victim pay a bogus tax bill. They con the victim into sending cash, usually through a prepaid debit card or wire transfer. They may also leave “urgent” callback requests through phone “robo-calls,” or via a phishing email.

    Scammers often alter caller ID numbers to make it look like the IRS or another agency is calling. The callers use IRS titles and fake badge numbers to appear legitimate. They may use the victim’s name, address and other personal information to make the call sound official.

    The IRS Will Never:

  • Call to demand immediate payment over the phone, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.

  • Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.

  • Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.

  • Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.

  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

    If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money and you don’t owe taxes, here’s what you should do:

  • Do not give out any information. Hang up immediately.

  • Contact TIGTA to report the call. Use their “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” web page or call 800-366-4484.

  • Report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on FTC.gov. Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.

  • If you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS directly at 1-800-829-1040.

    Avoid Email Phishing Attempts

    There has been a surge in email scams this year that appear to be from a tax agency or a tax software company. 

    Never reply to emails, texts or pop-up messages asking for your personal, tax or financial information. One common trick by criminals is to impersonate a business such as your financial institution, tax software provider or the IRS, asking you to update your account and providing a link. For small business, these schemes may try impersonating a company leader and request payroll and human resource information for employees in your company. Never click on links even if they seem to be from organizations you trust. Go directly to the organization’s website.

    And if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If you see an email that says "You won a free cruise" or "The IRS has a refund waiting for you," odds are high that it is a phishing attempt looking to get your personal information.

    If you get a phishing email, remember this important advice:

  • Don’t reply to the message.

  • Don’t give out your personal or financial information.

  • Forward the email to phishing@irs.gov. Then delete it.

  • Don’t open any attachments or click on any links. They may have malicious code that will infect your computer.

    More information on how to report phishing or phone scams is available on IRS.gov.

    Related Items:

  • www.irs.gov/identitytheft

  • Fact sheet FS-2016-1, IRS, States and Tax Industry Combat Identity Theft and Refund Fraud on Many Fronts

  • FS-2016-2, IRS, States and Tax Industry Urge Taxpayers to Join the Effort to Combat Identity Theft

  • FS-2016-3, IRS Identity Theft Victim Assistance: How It Works

  • FS-2016-4, How New Identity Security Changes May Affect Taxpayers for 2016 

     

Consumer Alert: Scammers Change Tactics, Once Again

Posted by Admin Posted on Mar 15 2016

 

Consumer Alert: Scammers Change Tactics, Once Again

 

WASHINGTON — Aggressive and threatening phone calls by criminals impersonating IRS agents remain a major threat to taxpayers, but now the IRS is receiving new reports of scammers calling under the guise of verifying tax return information over the phone.

 

The latest variation being seen in the last few weeks tries to play off the current tax season. Scam artists call saying they have your tax return, and they just need to verify a few details to process your return. The scam tries to get you to give up personal information such as a Social Security number or personal financial information, such as bank numbers or credit cards.

 

“These schemes continue to adapt and evolve in an attempt to catch people off guard just as they are preparing their tax returns,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “Don’t be fooled. The IRS won’t be calling you out of the blue asking you to verify your personal tax information or aggressively threatening you to make an immediate payment.”

 

The IRS reminds taxpayers to guard against all sorts of con games that continually change. The IRS, the states and the tax industry came together in 2015 and launched a public awareness campaign called Taxes. Security. Together. to help educate taxpayers about the need to maintain security online and to recognize and avoid “phishing” and other schemes.

 

The IRS continues to hear reports of phone scams as well as e-mail phishing schemes across the country.

 

“These schemes touch people in every part of the country and in every walk of life. It’s a growing list of people who’ve encountered these. I’ve even gotten these calls myself,” Koskinen said.

 

This January, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) announced they have received reports of roughly 896,000 phone scam contacts since October 2013 and have become aware of over 5,000 victims who have collectively paid over $26.5 million as a result of the scam. Just this year, the IRS has seen a 400 percent increase in phishing schemes.

 

Protect Yourself

 

Scammers make unsolicited calls claiming to be IRS officials. They demand that the victim pay a bogus tax bill. They con the victim into sending cash, usually through a prepaid debit card or wire transfer. They may also leave “urgent” callback requests through phone “robo-calls,” or via a phishing email. They’ve even begun politely asking taxpayers to verify their identity over the phone.

 

Many phone scams use threats to intimidate and bully a victim into paying. They may even threaten to arrest, deport or revoke the license of their victim if they don’t get the money.

 

Scammers often alter caller ID numbers to make it look like the IRS or another agency is calling. The callers use IRS titles and fake badge numbers to appear legitimate. They may use the victim’s name, address and other personal information to make the call sound official.

 

Here are some things the scammers often do but the IRS will not do. Any one of these five things is a tell-tale sign of a scam.

 

The IRS will never:

 

  • Call to demand immediate payment over the phone, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you several bills.
  • Call or email you to verify your identity by asking for personal and financial information.
  • Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
  • Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone or email.
  • Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.

 

If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money or to verify your identity, here’s what you should do:

 

If you don’t owe taxes, or have no reason to think that you do:

 

  • Do not give out any information. Hang up immediately.
  • Contact TIGTA to report the call. Use their “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” web page. You can also call 800-366-4484.
  • Report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on FTC.gov. Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.

 

If you know you owe, or think you may owe tax:

 

  • Call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS workers can help you.

 

Stay alert to scams that use the IRS as a lure. Tax scams can happen any time of year, not just at tax time. For more, visit “Tax Scams and Consumer Alerts” on IRS.gov.

 

Each and every taxpayer has a set of fundamental rights they should be aware of when dealing with the IRS. These are your Taxpayer Bill of Rights. Explore your rights and our obligations to protect them on IRS.gov.

 

 

 

IR-2012-86, Nov. 4, 2012

WASHINGTON — As part of the administration’s continued support for states and local partners impacted by Hurricane Sandy, the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service today announced that they will waive low-income housing tax credit rules that prohibit owners of low-income housing from providing housing to victims of Hurricane Sandy who do not qualify as low-income. The action will expand the availability of housing for disaster victims and their families.

Because of the widespread devastation to housing caused by Hurricane Sandy, the Treasury Department and the IRS will temporarily suspend income limitation requirements and non-transient requirements for qualified low-income housing projects that provide housing to victims of Hurricane Sandy.

The President has declared that major disasters exist in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey, making federal funding available to affected individuals in designated counties through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster. FEMA has also approved Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) in New York and New Jersey for eligible disaster survivors who have a continuing need for shelter because they are unable to return to their homes for an extended period of time. Individuals and business owners who sustained losses can apply for assistance from FEMA by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) via mobile device at m.fema.gov, or online at www.disasterassistance.gov.