Be on Alert for Back-to-School Scams Targeting Students and Parents

Scammers are constantly identifying fresh tactics to carry out their crimes in new and unsuspecting ways

College student using laptop - back-to-school scams
Image: NCCC
August 19, 2016

As schools around the nation prepare to re-open, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is warning taxpayers to be on alert for telephone scammers targeting students and parents during the back-to-school season and demanding payments for non-existent taxes.

The agency says that people should be on the lookout for IRS impersonators calling students and demanding that they wire money immediately to pay a fake "federal student tax." In reported incidents of this scheme, the scammer becomes aggressive and threatens to report the student to the police to be arrested if the student does not comply with his demands.

"Although variations of the IRS impersonation scam continue year-round, they tend to peak when scammers find prime opportunities to strike", said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. "As students and parents enter the new school year, they should remain alert to bogus calls, including those demanding fake tax payments from students."

Scammers are constantly identifying fresh tactics to carry out their crimes in new and unsuspecting ways. This year, the IRS says that it has seen scammers use a variety of schemes to fool taxpayers into paying money they don't owe or giving up personal information.

The agency is encouraging college and school communities to share this information so that students, parents, and their families are aware of these pervasive scams.

REMEMBER, the IRS will never:

  • Angrily demand immediate payment over the phone, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.
  • Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
  • 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.

Here's what you should do if you think you're the target of an IRS impersonation scam:

  • If you actually do owe taxes, 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 do not immediately believe that you do, you can report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 1-800-366-4484.

Find out more about recent tax scams.

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