Since 2013, cyber criminals and scammers posing as the IRS have cost their victims as much as $23 million. As these criminals become more sophisticated, even well-educated people can fall victim to these convincing schemes. There are red flags in these interactions that you can take notice of and decide if something seems illegitimate. Here are the top two ways that scammers can try to take advantage of taxpayers:
- Scammers make unsolicited calls or send phony emails. One of the most common IRS schemes is when thieves call or message taxpayers claiming to be IRS officials. Some scammers even have the ability to spoof your caller ID system. They will demand immediate payment and use threatening language to attempt to scare their victims into paying immediately either by sending cash or a prepaid debit card. More recently, these scammers have been using gift cards as a method of payment.
- Digital hackers mine your personal information. Criminals in phishing schemes pose as a representative of a reputable organization and send fake e-mails or create fake websites looking to steal personal information, such as passwords and social security numbers. they may hack an e-mail account and send mass e-mails under another person’s name, or pose as a bank, credit card company, tax software provider or government agency.
Remember, the IRS will NOT:
- Call you to demand immediate payment. If you owe, you will first receive a bill in the mail.
- Demand that you pay taxes and not allow you to question or appeal the amount that you owe.
- Require that you pay a certain way, such as with a gift card or prepaid debit card.
- Ask for your credit or debit card numbers over the phone or by email.
- Threaten to bring in police or other agencies to arrest you for not paying.