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Tuesday September 26, 2017

Washington News

Washington Hotline

Tax Scammers Do Not Take Summer Vacations

In IR-2017-112, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen warned taxpayers to be alert for new tax scams this summer. Koskinen stated, "We continue to urge people to watch out for new and evolving schemes this summer. 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. Taxpayers can avoid these and other tricky financial scams by taking a few minutes to review the telltale signs of these schemes."

Summer scammers are using four principal strategies.
  1. Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS) - The scammer is likely to claim that two certified letters have been sent to the taxpayer and returned or refused. The taxpayer is threatened with immediate arrest if he or she does not use a prepaid debit card for payment. Scammers will claim that the card is required for the EFTPS. The victim is warned not to speak with an attorney, tax preparer or other advisor, but must immediately make the payment.
  2. "Robo-Call" Messages - Some scammers operate call centers with software to call thousands of numbers each day. If there is no answer, the software leaves a prerecorded threat message. Taxpayers are warned that if they do not immediately return the call, they will be arrested. The taxpayer is told that if he or she does not respond, then he or she will be required to pay the claimed tax debt with a prepaid debit card.
  3. Private Debt Collectors - The IRS now is making use of four private companies to collect debts. However, the only debts that these companies process are several years old. The IRS will have previously made multiple contacts with the taxpayer prior to transferring the debt to the private collection process.
  4. Limited English - Scammers may approach immigrants or others who have limited English skills and threaten them in their native language. The scammer will threaten the person with arrest, deportation or loss of a drivers license. Taxpayers should encourage their family members to join together for protection. Families with senior members must offer support to protect them from becoming victims.
The IRS also shared specific information that you should be aware of in order to protect yourself.
  1. No Immediate Payment Demand - Even if you owe taxes, you will have time to make payment arrangements. Seniors should always speak with a family member or advisor before making a payment.
  2. No Immediate Arrest - The IRS follows specific procedures when collecting tax. You have a right to receive an explanation of the tax payments and a reasonable time to pay any tax that is due.
  3. No Phone Debit or Credit Card - The IRS will not call you on the phone and ask for an immediate debit or credit card payment.
Editor's Note: The IRS offers multiple help options for taxpayers. You can report scam calls to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484. If you would like to speak to an IRS representative, you can call the IRS help line at 800-829-1040.

Some taxpayers also have an ability to access their account on www.irs.gov. You also may want to go to the IRS site and check out "How To Know It's Really the IRS Calling or Knocking on Your Door."

Published June 30, 2017
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