A recent variation of the scam tries to play off the current tax season. Scam artists call saying they have your tax return and just need to verify a few details

Consumer Alert: Scammers Impersonating IRS Agents Change Tactics, Once Again
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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Aggressive and threatening phone calls by criminals impersonating Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agents remain a serious threat to taxpayers.

The IRS says that it continues to hear reports of phone scams as well as email phishing schemes targeting taxpayers across the country using the IRS name. In many cases, scammers will alter caller ID numbers to make it look like the IRS or another agency is calling. The con artists use IRS titles and fake badge numbers to appear legitimate. They may even use the taxpayer's name, address and other personal information to make the call sound official.

According to the IRS, a recent variation of this scam tries to play off the current tax season. Scam artists call saying that they have your tax return, and just need to verify a few details to process your return. The scammer tries to get you to give up personal information such as a Social Security number or personal financial information, such as bank numbers or credit cards.

Last month, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) announced that it had received information that callers impersonating IRS employees or the U.S. Treasury Department were contacting taxpayers and demanding payments on iTunes gift cards. TIGTA says that these scam callers may also request payment of taxes using Green Dot, MoneyPak, Reloadit, and other prepaid credit or debit cards. Any such request is a huge red flag!

"These schemes continue to adapt and evolve in an attempt to catch people off guard just as they are preparing their tax returns," said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. "Don't be fooled. The IRS won't be calling you out of the blue asking you to verify your personal tax information or aggressively threatening you to make an immediate payment."

In January, TIGTA said that it had received reports of roughly 896,000 phone scam contacts to consumers since October 2013 and was aware of over 5,000 victims who had collectively been conned into paying more than $26.5 million as a result of these scams. Just this year, the IRS says that it has seen a 400 percent increase in phishing schemes.

Don't be fooled by a scam artist's attempt to steal your money or identity! Remember, the IRS will NEVER:

  • Call to demand immediate payment, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.
  • Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
  • Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
  • 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 for not paying.

If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and 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 (TIGTA) at 1-800-366-4484 or report it online at the IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting Page.
  • If you've been targeted by this scam, also contact the Federal Trade Commission and use their FTC Complaint Assistant at FTC.gov. If the complaint involves someone impersonating the IRS, include the words "IRS Telephone Scam" in the notes.

Stay alert to scams that use the IRS name as a lure. Tax scams can happen during any time of the year, not just at tax time. For more information, visit IRS.gov.