Do Not Be Fooled By Sophisticated IRS Scams
Scam artists are getting more stealthy and sophisticated with their ploys to get your money and steal your identity, especially when they pose as the IRS. Currently, these scam artists claiming to be IRS representatives are using intimidation as their weapon of choice, a tactic that is, unfortunately, often successful with the more vulnerable. We’re putting this article out not to scare you, but to arm you with information so you can be prepared if you receive one of these phone calls.
How Scam Artists Operate
- They make unsolicited phone calls. If you receive a call during which someone claims to be from the IRS and demands that you pay a tax bill, beware. Scammers will try to con you into sending them a wire transfer or prepaid debit card. The IRS will never call you to demand an immediate payment. If you genuinely owe taxes, you will receive a bill in the mail first.
- They try to scare you. Scam artists will try to threaten and intimidate you into giving them money. They may say that they are calling the police to arrest you, deport you or take away your driver’s license. A true IRS agent will never use threats or intimidation or demand you pay a tax bill without you first receiving it in the mail. The IRS will also not threaten you with calling the police or any other government agency.
- They use software to make their caller ID number look legitimate. Some scammers can alter what your caller ID says to make it look like a real IRS number being called from. They can also use fake badge numbers or IRS titles. They might even have bits of your personal information, like your name, address or the last four digits of your social security number. Don’t be fooled. Go with your gut. If the call sounds suspicious, it probably is a scam. If the caller is legitimately from the IRS, they won’t mind if you disconnect the call and try calling the real number back on your own. The IRS will never ask you for a credit or debit card number over the phone or require that you pay taxes in a certain way (like with a prepaid debit card).
- They invent new tricks all the time. Some scams will send you an email with a very legitimate looking tax bill. Other scammers are so brazen they even give you a legitimate IRS mailing address. Scam artists are very good at creating fake letterhead for emails and standard mail to make their documents look authentic.
- They try to take advantage of people who they think will be easily intimidated. Scammers particularly target older people, new immigrants to the U.S. and women. If you’re in one of these groups, be extra vigilant.
What You Can Do
- If you don’t owe taxes, hang up immediately. Contact the Treasury Inspector General of the Tax Administration (TIGTA) and report the call. Then report it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
- If you know you owe taxes, call the IRS at 800-829-1040 to discuss.
Please share this information with your loved ones, especially those you think might be more vulnerable to scam artists’ tactics. We at Wood Smith Advisors want your identity and your assets to remain safely in the right person’s hands – your own.
Wood Smith Advisors, a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA), is a fee-only financial services firm that partners with its clients to simplify their financial lives. We focus on women, entrepreneurs and individuals with complex financial situations, providing objective and competent advice, education and services to help them develop and build their businesses and reach their financial goals.
“Finance Made Simple” blog posts are intended for educational purposes and not for specific advice. Each person’s situation is different. Consult your financial advisor for advice relating to topics discussed.