Has this ever happened to you? You receive a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS. They say that you owe taxes immediately, and if you don’t pay, they will send someone to arrest you and throw you in jail.
Such a scary situation happens all too frequently nowadays. But don’t worry, you are not going to jail. You are the target of a scam. Many popular scams involving persons pretending to be from the IRS are circulating, and at Ulrich & Associates, we want you to be prepared so that you don’t get the daylights scared out of you, or worse, victimized by these fraudsters.
The first thing to always keep in mind is that the IRS will not call you unsolicited. If the IRS is trying to contact you for the first time, they will always send you a written notice via mail. They do not use email, text, or social media to contact you. So if you receive a phone call claiming to be from the IRS that you are not expecting, be alert to a scam.
The IRS also shares five tell-tale signs that you are speaking with a scammer. From their website:
The IRS will never:
- Call to demand immediate payment, nor will we call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.
- 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.
- Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
Scam phone calls involving the IRS generally fall into two categories: demands for payment on taxes owed, and alleged refunds that trick you into sharing private information. Remember, the IRS will never call you out of the blue to discuss such matters. They will always send you mail first. If you believe you are the victim of a scam, the IRS suggests taking the following steps:
- If you know you owe taxes or think you might owe, call the IRS at 1.800.829.1040. The IRS workers can help you with a payment issue.
- If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to believe that you do, report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 1.800.366.4484 or at www.tigta.gov.
- You can file a complaint using the FTC Complaint Assistant; choose “Other” and then “Imposter Scams.” If the complaint involves someone impersonating the IRS, include the words “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.
So beware of scammers. Don’t allow yourself to be bullied by these imposters and don’t give them any personal information. If in doubt, the professionals at Ulrich & Associates are happy to help you through any tax issues or questions you may be facing.