As scams continue, IRS identifies 5 ways to spot suspicious calls

Sep 03, 2014

Mukilteo taxpayers, like many across the U.S., continue to be victimized by IRS telephone scams – but there are five easy ways to know when a phone call is a fake.

The Mukilteo Police Department has taken many reports following tax season of phony calls from the IRS.

Victims say they were threatened with arrest, getting their driver’s licenses revoked, having their utilities shut off – or worse – if they did not immediately pay a fine or a tax debt of thousands of dollars.

Due to an increase in scam phone calls claiming to be from the IRS, the IRS is providing taxpayers with five easy ways to spot a suspicious phone call.

“The scammers are calling taxpayers and demanding money and/or personal information,” said David Tucker II, IRS spokesperson at the Seattle office. “They even threaten pending arrest if their demands aren’t met.”

The IRS issued a consumer alert on Aug. 29 providing taxpayers with additional tips to protect themselves from telephone scammers calling and pretending to be with the IRS.

The IRS reminds taxpayers that they can know pretty easily when a supposed IRS caller is a fake.

Here are five things the scammers often do but the IRS will not do. Any one of these five things is a tell-tale sign of a scam. The IRS will never:

1.Call you about taxes you owe without first mailing you an official notice.

2. Demand you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.

3. Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as prepaid debit card.

4. Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested.

“We have formal processes in place for people with tax issues,” Tucker said. “The IRS respects taxpayer rights, and these angry, shake-down calls are not how we do business.”

If you get a phone call from the phony IRS and a scammer is asking for money, here’s what you should do:

If you know you owe taxes or think you might owe, call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040. IRS workers can help you with a payment issue.

If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to believe that you do, report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1-800-366-4484 or at www.tigta.gov.

If you’ve been targeted by this scam, also contact the Federal Trade Commission and use their “FTC Complaint Assistant” at FTC.gov. Add "IRS Telephone Scam" to your complaint.

Remember, too, the IRS does not use email, text messages or any social media to discuss your personal tax issue.

For more information on reporting tax scams, go to www.irs.gov and type “scam” in the search box.

-Edited by Beacon staff

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