Identity thieves are once again targeting taxpayers, this time with a twist on the pervasive telephone tax scam.
In its original version, which the Internal Revenue Service and other government agencies have dubbed the biggest tax scam ever, crooks pretend to be IRS employees and demand immediate payment by prepaid debit card or wire transfer of a purported tax owed by the victims.
3 tweaks to telephone scam: The ID thieves are still impersonating IRS agent and they still want our money ASAP via a debit card. But this time they’ve refined their fake story in three ways regarding the supposed unpaid tax bill.
- The calling scammer tells the victim that the IRS mailed two certified letters about the purported due taxes, but they letters were returned as undeliverable. The scam artist then threatens to arrest the victim if a payment is not made through a prepaid debit card.
- To give the criminal ruse an added veneer or authenticity, this scammer also tells the victim that the card is linked to the online tax payment option EFTPS, which stands for Electronic Federal Tax Payment System. EFTPS is a very useful automated tax payment system. I’ve used it for many years and I can tell you that it does not require the purchase of a prepaid debit card.
- Finally, the victim is warned not to contact their tax preparer, an attorney or their local IRS office until after the tax payment is made.
3 responses to telephone scam: There also is a three-step response to this latest telephonic tax-related attempt to steal your money.
- Hang up. Immediately. Before you give out any information to the calling crook.
- If you have any concern about a possible legitimate overdue tax bill, call the IRS directly toll free at 1-800-829-1040. You also can check your tax account information online through IRS.gov’s expanded access option.
- Report the call to Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). You can use TIGTA’s IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting web page or call the tax watchdog office toll free at 1-800-366-4484. The FTC would like to get your scam report via its FTC Complaint Assistant at FTC.gov. Add “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes section.
No safe place: The IRS says this latest scam has been reported across the entire United States as we’ve headed into what should be a slow season for taxes and tax scams.
But, as IRS Commissioner John Koskinen noted in announcing this latest criminal enterprise, “scams and schemes do not take the summer off.”
“This is a new twist to an old scam,” added Koskinen. “People should stay vigilant against IRS impersonation scams. People should remember that the first contact they receive from IRS will not be through a random, threatening phone call.”
You also might find these items of interest:
- How to tell if that IRS agent on your porch is legit
- 5 ways to protect your tax identity and refund money
- Fear you might be a tax ID theft victim? Here’s what to do