If you usually wait until the last minute to file your taxes, the deadline to get them done this year is April 18. While you put off the one thing we all dread doing every year, scammers love tax season and use many different tricks to try to con you out of money.
From phone calls to phishing emails, the scammers often target seniors, and unfortunately sometimes they take the bait. The calls claim to be from the IRS and use threats to intimidate and bully a victim into paying. They may even threaten to arrest, deport or revoke the license of their victim if they don’t get the money.
Scammers often alter caller ID numbers to make it look like the IRS or another agency is calling. The callers use IRS titles and fake badge numbers to appear legitimate. They may use the victim’s name, address and other personal information to make the call sound official.
The emails are from criminals who have stolen your tax and banking information from elsewhere, then file a fraudulent tax return in your name and have the refund deposited in your account.
Then, they contact you by email pretending to be from the IRS or a collection agency, claiming a refund was deposited erroneously in your account and order you to send it to them.
In other email schemes, criminals may pretend to be from your bank or other legitimate institution you know to get you to give them your passwords, Social Security number and other valuable information.
Here are five things the scammers often do but the IRS will not do. Any one of these five things is a tell-tale sign of a scam.
The IRS will never:
Call to demand immediate payment, nor will the agency 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.
If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money, here’s what you should do:
If you don’t owe taxes, or have no reason to think that you do:
Do not give out any information. Hang up immediately.
Contact TIGTA to report the call. Use their “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” webpage. You can also call 800-366-4484.
Report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on FTC.gov. Please add "IRS Telephone Scam" in the notes.