As tax season quickly approaches, the IRS has issued a list of the most frequently reported tax scams over the past year.
Unfortunately, there is an increase in such scams during tax season each year. The goal of these scams is to steal sensitive personal information, including identity theft, which facilitates the ability to commit tax refund fraud. To help clients, prospects and others stay vigilant against such scams and avoid falling victim, Wilson Lewis has provided a summary of the most prevalent scams below.
Most Common IRS Tax Scams
Requesting Fake Tax Payments – There have been many complaints made to the IRS about automated calls where scammers leave callback requests asking taxpayers to settle their outstanding bill. As is typical with scams, they indicate that this is the last communication before legal action is taken. It’s also common for payments to be demanded on prepaid credit cards, gift cards and even iTunes cards. The IRS does not attempt to resolve outstanding balances using any of these methods.
Fictitious Tax Payments – It has also been reported that students and parents have been targeted by scammers requesting payment of fictitious taxes, such as the Federal Student Tax, which does not exist. As usual, if the taxpayer does not agree to pay the tax immediately, the caller becomes aggressive and threatens to have the police sent to the taxpayer’s home to demand compliance.
Verifying Tax Return Information – Scammers often call taxpayers saying they have a copy of their tax return and would like to verify a few pieces of information in order to process the return. Of course they will ask for sensitive personal information, such as a social security number, bank account and credit card numbers. NEVER give out such personal information over the phone to anyone claiming to be from the IRS (or any other organization).
Impersonating Software Vendors – In this scam targeted at tax preparers, scammers send an email asking the recipient to download and install an important software update needed for their existing tax software. Once downloaded, the program tracks the preparers’ keystrokes and the scammers are able to obtain login information, passwords and other sensitive data.
CP2000 Scam – This new scam involves receipt of a fraudulent version of a CP2000 notice for the 2015 tax year – commonly via email – with a request for payment to be sent to an address that appears similar to the IRS (typically the “Austin Processing Center” with a P.O. Box address). While the IRS does send CP2000 notices through the U.S. Postal Service, taxpayers should be on the lookout for the fake forms and unrelated P.O. Box address sent via email.
It’s important to note that the IRS will never do the following when communicating with taxpayers:
Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method, such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer or initiate contact by email, text message or via social media. Generally, the IRS will first mail you a bill if you owe any taxes.
Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have taxpayers arrested for non-payment.
Require payment without providing the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.
Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
Once a taxpayer has been scammed it is often a difficult process to resolve the potential issues which can arise. Staying vigilant and double checking with the IRS and others before revealing personal or sensitive financial information is important. If you have questions about these or other tax scams, please contact us at (770) 476-1004, or click here to contact us. We look forward to speaking with you soon.