Summertime Tax Scams

by | Jul 5, 2017 | Blog

© Can Stock Photo / karenrDon’t Be Caught Unaware

Despite the fact that tax season has passed for most taxpayers, “new and emerging schemes” involving the tax system continue to claim victims. Many of these are variations of a theme, involving fictitious tax bills and demands to pay by purchasing and transferring information involving a gift card or iTunes card.

There are also many other tricky schemes out there. The IRS listed the following among its “new and emerging” summer scams list:

Electronic Payment Scam

A new scam which is linked to the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS) has been reported nationwide. In this ruse, con artists call to demand immediate tax payment. The caller claims to be from the IRS and says that two certified letters mailed to the taxpayer were returned as undeliverable. The scammer then threatens arrest if a payment is not made immediately by a specific prepaid debit card. Victims are told that the debit card is linked to the EFTPS when, in reality, it is controlled entirely by the scammer. Victims are warned not to talk to their tax preparer, attorney or the local IRS office until after the payment is made.

“Robo-call” Messages

The IRS does not call and leave prerecorded, urgent messages asking for a call back. Scammers tell victims that if they do not call back, a warrant will be issued for their arrest. Those who do respond are told they must make immediate payment either by a specific prepaid debit card or by wire transfer.

Private Debt Collection Scams

The IRS recently began sending letters to a relatively small group of taxpayers whose overdue federal tax accounts are being assigned to one of four private-sector collection agencies. Taxpayers should be on the lookout for scammers posing as private collection firms. The IRS-authorized firms will only be calling about a tax debt the person has had – and has been aware of – for years. The IRS would have previously contacted taxpayers about their tax debt.

Scams Targeting People With Limited English Proficiency

Taxpayers with limited English proficiency have been recent targets of phone scams and email phishing schemes that continue to occur across the country. Con artists often approach victims in their native language, threaten them with deportation, police arrest and license revocation among other things. They tell their victims they owe the IRS money and must pay it promptly through a preloaded debit card, gift card or wire transfer. They may also leave “urgent” callback requests through phone “robo-calls” or via a phishing email.

REMEMBER: The IRS doesn’t initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or social media channels to request personal or financial information. In addition, IRS does not threaten taxpayers with lawsuits, imprisonment or other enforcement action. Recognizing these telltale signs of a phishing or tax scam could save you from becoming a victim. See also: How to know it’s really the IRS calling or knocking on your door. 

Unsolicited email claiming to be from the IRS, or from a related component such as EFTPS, should be reported to the IRS at phishing@irs.gov. If you are uncertain about an email, mail resceived by the US postal service, text message or phone call, please contact us or contat the IRS directly. We can help determine if someone is trying a scam.

Summer Scam information provided by The IRS.