IRS Issues Warning About “Back To School” Scams

Keyboard scam

Scam Warning!

With students and parents preparing to face the start of the new school year, there’s already a lot of running around and taking care of last minute details. The start of the new school year also brings tax scams.

The IRS recently announced that a new scam is making the rounds. They warned of phone calls from fake agents, claiming to represent the agency and demanding a “federal student tax”.

While IRS scams have become a year round thing, this particular one targets parents and students. These bogus impersonators threaten with fines and jail time, demanding payment to stop any legal proceedings.

The IRS urges parents and schools to communicate to each other, students and staff that these scams are happening and to be on the look out.

Some of the tactics these scammer use to pay money or give up personal information include:

  • Altering Caller ID information;
  • Demanding payments using gift cards;
  • “Verifying” tax return information;
  • Pretending to be professional tax preparers;

If you receive a call from someone purporting to be an IRS representative, keep the following in mind:

  • The IRS will never demand immediate payment over the phone.  You will often get a letter in the mail first;
  • Threaten to alert or use local police or law enforcement agencies;
  • Demand payment of taxes without benefit of an appeal;
  • Ask for card payment information over the phone;

If you get a call you feel may be a scam, the IRS urges you to do the following:

  • Don’t provide any personal information and hang up immediately;
  • Search the number appearing on the caller ID.  They are often already listed as scam phone numbers;
  • If you think you might owe the IRS, call them directly: 1-800-829-1040;

Staying vigilant and alert will help keep crooks from separating you from your hard earned money.

IRS Repeats Warning About Phone Scams

fraud, scam, theftThe Internal Revenue Service and Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (“TIGTA”) are still receiving complaints from taxpayers about unsolicited calls from people claiming to be from the IRS and demanding payment.  The TIGTA has identified approximately 1,100 victims who have lost a total of $5 million from these scammers.

Here are a few things taxpayers should know about the IRS that can help you recognize a scam:

  • The IRS will NEVER ask for credit, debit or prepaid card information over the phone;
  • The IRS will NEVER insist that you use a specific type of repayment to pay tax obligations;
  • The IRS will NEVER request immediate payment over the phone and will not take enforcement action immediately after a phone conversation.

Taxpayers who receive these calls may be told that they owe money that must be paid immediately or that they are entitled to a large refund.  If unsuccessful the first time, scammers may call back and try a different method.

Here are some other typical characteristics of a scam:

  • Scammers will use fake names and IRS badge numbers. The names are usually common;
  • Scammers may know the last four digits of you social security number;
  • Scammers are able to make the caller ID appear as if the IRS toll free number is calling;
  • Scammers occasionally send bogus IRS emails to support their bogus phone calls;
  • Scammers will add background noise to simulate the sound of a call center;
  • Scammers will threaten the potential victim with jail time or suspending their driver’s license. Similarly, another scammer will call back shortly after hanging up and pose as the DMV or local police; and the caller ID may be masked to support their claims.

If you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, here are some simple steps you can take:

  • If you know you owe taxes, or you think you might, call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040. The IRS employees at that line can help you with a payment issue if there is one;
  • If you know you don’t owe taxes, or you have no reason to think that you owe any taxes, then call and report the incident to the TIGTA at 1-800-366-4484;
  • If you’ve been targeted by this scam, you should also contact the Federal Trade Commission and use their “FTC Complaint Assistant” at FTC.gov. Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments of the complaint.

Taxpayers should also be aware that there are other types of telephone scams and solicitations that claim to be from the IRS, such as debt relief or lottery sweepstakes.

The IRS encourages taxpayers to be vigilant against email and telephone scams.  The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers via electronic media, including email, text messages or any social media source.  The IRS will always contact taxpayers with official correspondence sent through the mail.  People who receive such emails should not open any links contained in the message.  Instead, forward the email to phishing@irs.gov.

This blog brought to you by TaxLane, LLC, providing tax preparation and consulting services to individuals and small businesses.

Pittsburgh, Allison Park, Hampton, Shaler, Glenshaw.

IRS CIRCULAR 230 NOTICE: To ensure compliance with requirements imposed by the Internal Revenue Service, we inform you that any U.S. tax advice contained in this communication is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed in this communication.

IRS Warns of Phony Tax Scheme Abusing the American Opportunity Tax Credit

The IRS warned taxpayers today to be aware of a new scam targeting senior citizens and other taxpayers.  As part of the scam, taxpayers are encouraged to file returns claiming the American Opportunity Tax Credit.  The scammers mislead these taxpayers into believing that they are eligible to claim the credit, even if they don’t meet the credit’s requirements.

The intent is to generate bogus refund checks for taxpayers.  Scammers often charge large upfront fees, with the promise that taxpayers will later receive large refund checks.  By the time the deception is uncovered, the scammers are usually long gone.  Taxpayers are out the upfront fee they paid and are left to clear up the resulting tax mess.

Learn more about tax scams from the IRS here.

A word of warning: as with most things in life and tax – If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

IRS CIRCULAR 230 NOTICE: To ensure compliance with requirements imposed by the Internal Revenue Service, we inform you that any U.S. tax advice contained in this communication is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed in this communication.