Unfortunately, taxpayers must always be on the lookout for scammers claiming they owe the IRS and demanding immediate payment or stealing the taxpayers’ identities to get their tax refunds. In a new scam, con artists are contacting consumers and demanding they immediately pay owed taxes to the IRS through prepaid debit cards. According to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), 736,000 people have received scam calls and 4,550 people have paid over $23 million as a result of this new scam since October 2013.
What To Watch Out For to Know If You’re Being Scammed
Scammers are calling taxpayers claiming to be from the U.S. Treasury. They often used automated robocall machines, fake IRS badge numbers, and may have the last four digits of the person’s social security number. Several scams to be aware of include:
- The scammer demands payment or information, threatening arrest or other dire consequences if payment is not made immediately.
- The scammer claims the taxpayer won a grant but needs personal information or a certain sum of money before he can send the grant money to him.
- The scammer is selling bogus promissory notes, bonds, or treasury notes.
It is important to remember that the IRS rarely initially calls taxpayers, instead relying almost exclusively on mail. In addition, the IRS does not ask for payment by prepaid debit cards or ask for a credit card number over the telephone.
What You Should Do If You Suspect a Call Is a Scam
If you suspect a scammer is contacting you, do not give him any identifying information—such as your social security number—or credit card or bank information. You should also take the following steps:
- If you know or believe you owe federal taxes, hang up. Call an experienced tax attorney to help you work out a payment plan with an IRS representative.
- If you do not owe taxes, hang up and fill out the IRS Impersonation scam form on TIGTA’s website or call TIGTA at 800-366-4484 to file a complaint.
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