It’s that time of the year when tax scammers start to come out in full force. I came out of a relaxing yoga class on tax day to find that I’d missed several calls and had voicemail waiting for me.
Here’s what the message said:
“This is a call is from internal revenue services. This call is intended to contact you regarding enforcement action executed by the U.S. Treasury. Ignoring this will be an intentional second attempt to avoid initial appearance before a magistrate judge or a grand jury for a federal criminal offense. This is the final attempt to reach you. to resolve this issue immediately and to speak to a federal agent call (the number).”
Now, if you read or listen closely there are approximately 1,000 clues that this is a scam. Unfortunately, not everyone listens or reads closely. Some folks are going to panic. They’ll hear those threats of jail and court and immediately call that number. Before they get a chance to think clearly, they’ll have given their credit card or bank information to these scammers. In addition to phone scams, there are also email scams like this. They have threatening and official-looking letterheads and also demand immediate payment or else. But if you know way the IRS works, you won’t even think twice about these scams. Straight from the IRS’s website The IRS never does the following:
- Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail you a bill if you owe any taxes.
- Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
- Demand payment without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
- Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
The IRS will not initiate contact by email or phone. They’ll send you a letter explaining what the problem is. If the IRS wanted you before a judge, you’d already be arrested.
If you have any worries that you are actually in trouble with the IRS (and this is a good idea even if you get something in the mail) what you need to do is contact the IRS. Don’t use any of the contact information that comes from the email or phone call. And, you know, I wouldn’t even necessarily use the contact info in a letter. What you should do is look up the phone number for your local IRS office.
Enter your ZIP code and you’ll get the address and phone number. You can then call to find out if there really is an issue with your taxes.