Stay Alert For IRS Scam Phone Calls
No one is shielded from being the subject of a scam, not even the Internal Revenue Service. While it is time to start thinking about the 2014 tax return, phone call scams keep being reported throughout the country and the IRS is reminding people how they can identify scams and report them.
Some scam artists call taxpayers and pretend to represent the IRS, but the IRS generally handles their business very differently. According to Michael Devine, IRS spokesman for Illinois, Missouri and Kansas, the aggressivity of the scammers is one of the main signs showing that these phone calls are deceptive.
“Scam artists are normally very insulting, they’re very hostile, they’re going to threaten you, and that’s just not how the IRS does business,” Devine said.
He said it is very unlikely that the IRS is going to call taxpayers out of the blue. They always gets in touch with people through the mail.
“The IRS will never initiate contact with a taxpayer over the phone,” Devine said. “We are going to send you a letter through the mail.”
Devine added that the IRS does not send emails. To him, any unexpected contact via phone call or email supposedly from the IRS should be considered with suspicion.
“Anytime you get a communication that claims to be from the IRS, you need to call the IRS at our toll free number, 1-800-829-1040, and ask ‘is the IRS actually trying to get a hold of me?’” Devine said.
If taxpayers get a letter or a notice in the mail, he said it’s better to call the IRS to find out what they want to know.
“We are going to explain what the problem is, we are going to give you opportunities to challenge any decisions that we may have made, and if you do owe more money, we are going to offer ways that you can pay that are convenient to you, maybe an installment agreement,” Devine said.
Scammers do not do things like that. They ask for immediate payment and require a specific payment method like the use of a prepaid credit card. Sometimes they ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone and even threaten taxpayers with a lawsuit if they refuse to provide personal information.
For Devine, these are demands the IRS will never have and he urges people to notify the authority if they get a call with such content.
“Don’t believe it, hang up the phone and then notify the local police department so they can be involved in tracking those criminals down,” he said.
People can also report the incident to the IRS, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration or file a complaint with the FTC.
“The important thing is to remember, the IRS or any government agency is never going to call you or email you out of the blue and demand that you do something immediately,” Devine said.
Additional information on scams, phishing and taxes can be found on the IRS website.