Phishing for Your Funds: Fake IRS Calls

As the tax season quickly approaches, the number of shady IRS impersonation scams is on the rise. Of these scams, voice phishing continues to pose a major threat as they have cost thousands of people, millions of dollars in recent years, and the IRS is warning about new variations on these aggressive calling schemes.

The newest variation of this scheme involves unsolicited emails sent to taxpayers demanding payment for back taxes. Recently, the IRS issued a warning to taxpayers to be on the lookout for emails with a subject of “Automatic Income Tax Reminder” or something similar. In the email, a link is enclosed that would allow taxpayers to access files about a refund or other tax information; yet, the link does not take the taxpayer to that information. Instead, anyone who clicks on the link installs malicious files / malware onto their computer. This malware gives the impostor access to all documents and data on the computer that could potentially result in identity theft and access to personal accounts.

IRS imposters prey on uninformed taxpayers. While this is terrifying, there are steps you can take to protect yourself. The easiest and most step is to stay informed – know how the IRS operates and the manner in which they will actually contact you.

The IRS typically contacts taxpayers through mailings; the agency will never send an email or contact a taxpayer through social media to request sensitive financial information. In addition, you should be cognizant of unsolicited phone calls. The agency has repeatedly warned taxpayers not to give immediate payment over the phone; there have been some reports that scammers have demanded the taxpayer to get a prepaid debit card or conduct a wire transfer. This is not how the IRS operates.

Some imposters introduced themselves by saying: “This is the Bureau of Tax Enforcement, and we’re putting a lien on your assets until you fulfill your past debt obligation.” They can sound convincing and will even give a fake badge number. Real IRS agents have two types of identification: a pocket commission and an HSOD-12 card. If this happens to you, ask the agent for the information on his or her HSPD-12 card so that you can call the IRS’s customer service to ensure that whom you are talking to is actually an IRS agent. The IRS is the only agency with the capacity to levy and collect taxes, so do not be fooled when the imposter attempts to collect from you under the guise of another agency!

Also be aware that the IRS does not threaten the taxpayer with local police, immigration officers, or other law enforcement agencies to arrest people for not paying taxes. In fact, the IRS CANNOT revoke a license or immigration status.

Dealing with the IRS can invoke fear and these scammers have piggy-backed on that fear to rip off thousands of vulnerable taxpayers.  If you are unsure of how to respond to a call or notice, contact Onyx Tax today and we will help clarify the proper course of action.

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