IRS tax frauds rise every year and according to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, they have received reports of more than 1 million contacts from scammers since October 2013.
The phone hoax that crooks use to make calls to taxpayers, and claim to be the IRS is the most popular. They TIGTA announced that they plan to use a new counter offensive to try to catch scammers who are impersonating IRS agents.(Washington,D.C. March 17 2016)
Fake Agents Contact Taxpayers
These fake agents are contacting taxpayers by phone, then acting as IRS agents, accusing them of fictitiously owing back taxes. The TIGTA is fighting back and reverse calling these crooks and warning them to cease and desist.
Then, using the cooperation of phone companies to shut them down. But, they also tell consumers to continue to be smart, and call the IRS about any phone call you may receive, from anybody claiming to be an IRS official.
In January of this year TIGTA launched a series of public service announcements they asked to be shared.
Their efforts are paying off. In just a few months, they have succeeded in reducing these crimes from what used to be about 1 victim for about every 40-50 calls to 1 in 300-400 calls.They are using a four part strategy to get results.
- Using auto-dialers to tell scammers their actions are criminal and to cease and desist.
- Co-operating phone companies shutting down the numbers being used for criminal activity.
- Publishing offending numbers on the internet
- Using public media to educate the taxpayer about these scams.
Tax Frauds Rise Every Year!
The TIGTA calls these “crimes of opportunity” and feel they will not stop until people stop paying them money. Educating people is one way to stop people from becoming victims. The TIGTA has stated that 5500 victims together paid about $29 million. These fake IRS officials demand payments by cash, prepaid debit cards, money orders, or bank wire transfers. The IRS would never demand payments by phone.
If anyone calls you claiming to be an IRS agent, and threatens you with legal action, that is a sure sign it is not the IRS, just hang up. The IRS generally will send you a contact by mail first, before you ever get contacted by phone.
You will never be asked for credit card information over the phone, or asked to send money.
If taxpayers are contacted by phone, from someone claiming to be an IRS agent, asking for a payment or account information, they should immediately hang up and call the IRS.
If you think you owe taxes, call (800) 829-1040, and IRS workers can help with payment questions.If you do not owe taxes, then you are asked to report the scam on TIGTA’s website , www.tigta.gov, or call TIGTA at (800) 366-4484.
You can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at www.FTC.gov, use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” and add ” IRS Telephone Scam” to the complaint.
Don’t Give Personal Information Over the Phone
TIGTA reminds taxpayers that the IRS never requests personal or financial information over the phone. All scam emails should be forwarded to firstname.lastname@example.org. Do not open any attachments or click on any links in those emails.
The IRS has continued to warn consumers about thieves trying to trick victims out out of their money or personal information in an IRS Special Edition Tax Tip 2015-18, October 21,2015. They give several tips to help avoid being a victim.
- Scammers make random calls. Claiming to be IRS officials, they demand taxpayers pay bogus tax bills. They seek payment using prepaid debit cards or wire transfers.
- They try to use scare tactics. By threatening legal action, they intimidate the victim into paying.
- They use fake caller ID numbers. By altering the name that appears on the caller ID, they can make it appear to be the IRS or some other agency calling. They use fake titles, badge numbers, and even use the victims personal information to make it appear real.
- Scammers continue to try new twists. They tell victims to mail a receipt to an actual IRS address, or send a fake document with their phone number on it.Or they send an email containing an official IRS letterhead to make it appear official.
Things the IRS will not do:
- Call and demand immediate payment. They will send you a letter first.
- Demand you pay or not allow you to question or appeal payment.
- Tell you how to make your payment.
- Ask for financial information over the phone.
- Threaten you with police arrest for not paying.
If you don’t owe taxes:
- Don’t give out any information Hang up!
- Report scam calls to the TIGTA’s webpage “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” or call (800)-366-4484.
- Report it to the “FTC Complaint Assistant” of the Federal Trade Commission on FTC.gov, and include the phrase “IRS Telephone Scam”
In February of 2016 the IRS renewed a warning of a surge in email fraud after seeing a 400% increase in phishing and malware incidents this year alone. The sole purpose is to trick taxpayers into believing these are official communications from the IRS, but they are not! Scammers are trying to get financial information they can use to try to file for refunds by impersonating others.
These emails can be convincing, by giving refund status, or asking for some verifying information on filing status, or even pin verification. These are being seen as text messages also and are showing up all over they country. People are urged NOT to click on these emails or any links they may contain. The purpose is for the scammer to install malware, or gain financial information about you.
Sadly many people do click on these links and are taken to official looking fake sites, where they are asked for their social security numbers, and other identification information. They may also install malware to access financial files or to record keystrokes to further gain information.
The Malware and Phishing Incidents Have Increased!
- In January 1,026 incidents were reported, up 254 from last year.
- In February the reported incidents nearly doubled from 201 last year to 363 in the first half of February this year.
- Numbers have already topped 2014, and are already past halfway for the total of 2015.
Although the IRS has been focusing on the phone scams, this huge increase in email fraud has prompted an increase in the security of their tax processing systems and fraud filters. Tax professionals are also reporting incidents with their systems as scammers try to hack their security credentials for IRS access.
The IRS , in cooperation with state tax revenue departments and the tax industry has produced their “Taxes.Security.Together” campaign. This will help taxpayers understand the danger to their personal and financial data.
Taxpayers can report any suspicious email either from the IRS or any closely related tax entity to Phishing@irs.gov . You can learn more here: Report Phishing and Online Scams.
The IRS wants everyone to understand that they generally do not send any email, or text messages, or any type of electronic messages, including social media, without contacting you by regular mail first. They also have information online to help protect you. Such as: IRS Phishing Scam .
Tax Refund Scam Emails and What to Look For?
If you get an official looking tax refund scam email, asking you for financial information, or to update information by way of a website link, DO NOT CLICK on those links. They may take you to a fake site, and you may pick up malware. Instead, just send the email to: Phishing@irs.gov .
Examples of emails the IRS has seen:
- Any type of variation about anyone’s tax refund.
- Requests to update filing details, also references to update W2’s.
- Requests for confirmations of any personal data.
- To get or create my IP Pin. This is an identity protection pin assigned by the IRS to identity theft victims, and called my IP Pin.
- To get or create my E-file Pin. This pin is assigned when you file your taxes online through E-file.
- Offers or requests to order a transcript.
- Asking you to complete your tax return information.
The IRS Continues to Offer Help For Victims:
Identity theft usually occurs outside the IRS site, and your information has been stolen elsewhere, but it is the IRS who informs the victim first. These cases are the most complex for the IRS to handle, so they are constantly reviewing policy changes and processes to minimize the incidents of identity theft and help the victims.
- IRS Criminal Investigation(CI) -Convicted 2000 thieves in the last 3 fiscal years.
- Law Enforcement Assistance Program(LEAP)- Protects known victims of Identity Fraud.
If you believe you are a victim of Tax Related Identity Theft review IRS publication 4535
For the latest updates from the IRS: Latest news from the IRS – https://www.irs.gov/uac/Latest-News
Read More about Scams and Frauds Here
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