The 2015 tax season is well underway, and criminals and scam artists are working hard to earn your trust and steal your money by posing as Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agents.
We've warned you before about phony calls from the IRS. A growing number of consumers from across the country have recently reported getting one of these threatening calls from someone claiming to be with the IRS.
As reported by CBS News, a Charlotte pastor recently got a call from a person claiming to be an agent with the IRS. The woman informed the pastor that a warrant was being filed for his arrest for tax fraud. He was told that his bank accounts would be frozen and that a lien would be put on his home. Scared, the pastor complied with the caller's demands. When all was said and done, the scammers successfully stole $16,000 from the pastor.
According to the U.S. Treasury Department, at least 366,000 people have reported receiving a similar call and more than 3,000 of them have been fooled by the scam, giving up a total of $15.5 million.
Tim Camus, Deputy Inspector General for Investigations at the Treasury Department, describes the current IRS phone scam at the "largest, most pervasive impersonation scam in the history of the agency."
If you get a call that claims to come from the IRS, look for warning signs that it could be a scam:
- The IRS will never threaten arrest, deportation or license revocation if you don't pay back taxes immediately.
- IRS agents will never demand immediate payment by credit card, pre-paid debit card or wire transfer.
- Typically, the IRS communicates with consumers about tax issues via mail, not by phone, email or text message.
- Ask for the caller's call back number and employee badge number, and then call the IRS directly at 1-800-829-1040 to check them out.
- Don't rely on Caller ID to identify who is calling you, since scammers can manipulate it to make it appear they are calling from the real IRS.
Never share personal information, such as your Social Security Number or bank account number, with anyone you don't know who contacts you, even if they claim to be with the IRS. Identity thieves can use this information to open up accounts in your name and even claim your tax refund.
Any suspected tax-related scams should be immediately reported to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). Reports can be submitted online or by calling toll-free 800-366-4484.