If the IRS Calls, Hang Up!

 By Jeffrey Yourkovich CPA

Weelunk Contributor

Filing season for your 2014 taxes officially began on January 20, 2015.

The IRS is responsible for collecting taxes and the administration of the Internal Revenue Code, but let me tell you what the IRS does not officially do in its capacity as the revenue collecting agency for the United States federal government: The IRS does NOT initiate taxpayer contact via email or telephone.

The IRS also does NOT use text messages or any social media to discuss your personal tax issue involving bills or refunds.

Why is this fact very important to understand?

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) has warned that nearly 3,000 victims have collectively paid over $14 million to a pervasive IRS impersonation phone scam. Many of these con games peak during filing season as people prepare their tax returns or hire someone to do so.

The callers are aggressive, they are relentless, and they are ruthless. Once they have your attention, they will say anything to con you out of your hard-earned cash.

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The callers make unsolicited call to taxpayers fraudulently claiming to be IRS officials and demanding they send them money for unpaid taxes. Scammers are able to alter caller ID numbers to make it look as if the IRS is calling.They use fake names and bogus IRS badge numbers.

These criminals try to scare and shock you into providing personal financial information on the spot while you are off guard.

Just hang up the phone.

The IRS normally contacts people by mail for unpaid taxes. The agency will not ask for payment using a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer. IRS employees also will not ask for a credit card number over the phone.

Victims of phone scams tend to be elderly, immigrants, or people in a position of vulnerability. My own mother received a call this past summer threatening to throw her in jail if she didn’t pay a past-due debt to the IRS. It put a scare into her, and she might have even believed it, but she knew better because I had educated her that these calls are frauds.

Do not be a victim, and, more importantly, spread the word to your family and friends who may be potential targets and make sure they understand to ignore these types of contacts simply by hanging up the phone or not responding to a suspicious email.