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scam Archives - R. Darren Sanford, CPA, CGMA
Oct 312013
 
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IRS Warns of Pervasive Telephone Scams

I wanted to inform my readers that the Internal Revenue Service warns of pervasive telephone scams targeting taxpayers, including recent immigrants, throughout the country.

Victims are told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. If the victim refuses to cooperate, they are then threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license. In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting.

“This scam has hit taxpayers in nearly every state in the country.  We want to educate taxpayers so they can help protect themselves.  Rest assured, we do not and will not ask for credit card numbers over the phone, nor request a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer,” says IRS Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel. “If someone unexpectedly calls claiming to be from the IRS and threatens police arrest, deportation or license revocation if you don’t pay immediately, that is a sign that it really isn’t the IRS calling.” Werfel noted that the first IRS contact with taxpayers on a tax issue is likely to occur via mail.

Other characteristics of this scam include:

  • Scammers use fake names and IRS badge numbers. They generally use common names and surnames to identify themselves.
  • Scammers may be able to recite the last four digits of a victim’s Social Security Number.
  • Scammers spoof the IRS toll-free number on caller ID to make it appear that it’s the IRS calling.
  • Scammers sometimes send bogus IRS emails to some victims to support their bogus calls.
  • Victims hear background noise of other calls being conducted to mimic a call site.
  • After threatening victims with jail time or driver’s license revocation, scammers hang up and others soon call back pretending to be from the local police or DMV, and the caller ID supports their claim.

If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, here’s what you should do:

  • If you know you owe taxes or you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS at 800-829-1040. The IRS employees at that line can help you with a payment issue – if there really is such an issue.
  • If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to think that you owe any taxes (for example, you’ve never received a bill or the caller made some bogus threats as described above), then call and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484.
  • If you’ve been targeted by this scam, you should also contact the Federal Trade Commission and use their “FTC Complaint Assistant” at FTC.gov. Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments of your complaint.

Taxpayers should be aware that there are other unrelated scams (such as a lottery sweepstakes) and solicitations (such as debt relief) that fraudulently claim to be from the IRS.

The IRS encourages taxpayers to be vigilant against phone and email scams that use the IRS as a lure. The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information.  This includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels. The IRS also does not ask for PINs, passwords or similar confidential access information for credit card, bank or other financial accounts. Recipients should not open any attachments or click on any links contained in the message. Instead, forward the e-mail to phishing@irs.gov.

More information on how to report phishing scams involving the IRS is available on the genuine IRS website, IRS.gov.

 

IRS YouTube Video: 

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links on this blog are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I might receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Sep 192013
 
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Scam, as defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary, is a fraudulent or deceptive act or operation.  For example, someone calls claiming you have defaulted on a loan and will be arrested unless you immediately wire as much as $2,000 to them.  Recent economic events, including layoffs, have resulted in many individuals falling behind on loans and other types of debt.  Scammers use these situations to take advantage of those who have been a victim of these unfortunate circumstances.  There has been an increase in the number of telephone scams, as well as, email scams.

Other situations which generally involve a scam include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Someone you do not know asks you to send money and keep it a secret.
  • A family you may know claims to be traveling and asks you to send money so they can get back home.  Generally, the communication will say they were a victim of theft.
  • An online seller or buyer insists you wire money to them or a third party.

If you’ve been subject to any of these situations, here are some tips to handle them:

  1. Ask the caller to provide official documentation verifying the debt.  If they don’t already have your address, they probably aren’t the lender they claim to be.  You have every right under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act to ask the caller (whether legitimate or scam) not to contact you via telephone.  Insist that they contact you by mail.
  2. Do NOT provide or confirm any personally identifiable information.  That includes bank account, credit card, mailing address information.  Typically a scammer will already have a few bits of your personal information and only need a bit more to do significant damage to your finances, credit report, etc.
  3. You should report any suspicious call or mail to the Federal Trade Commission by calling (877) 382-4357 or visiting their website at www.ftc.gov.

Lately, I’ve heard of many individuals falling victim to various scams and losing large sums of money.  Please do not become a victim of these scammers.  Scammers will attempt to scare you with any tactic to get you to respond to them in the desired manner.  Just do NOT do it.

If you are promised money for doing nothing, it’s likely a scam.  Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links on this blog are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I might receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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