Scam Alert: IRS Impersonators Targeting Students with Bogus Federal Tax Claim

The con artists try to convince college students to wire them money immediately

Scam Alert: IRS Impersonators Targeting Students with Bogus Federal Tax Claim
Image: Pixabay
June 2, 2016

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is warning taxpayers to be on the lookout for bogus phone calls from IRS impersonators demanding payment for a non-existent tax, the "Federal Student Tax."

The North Carolina Attorney General's Office issued a similar warning last week.

Even though this year's tax deadline has come and gone, scammers continue to use varied strategies to trick people into sending them money. In this newest twist, the con artists try to convince college students to wire them money immediately. If the victim does not fall quickly enough for this fake "federal student tax", the scammer threatens to report the student to the police.

"These scams and schemes continue to evolve nationwide, and now they're trying to trick students," said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. "Taxpayers should remain vigilant and not fall prey to these aggressive calls demanding immediate payment of a tax supposedly owed."

Scam artists frequently masquerade as being from the IRS, a tax company or other government agency. Many of these scammers use threats to intimidate and bully people into paying a tax bill. They may even threaten to arrest, deport or revoke the driver's license of their victim if they don't get the money right away.

Some examples of the varied tactics used by scammers this year include:

  • Demanding immediate tax payment for taxes owed on an iTunes gift card
  • Soliciting W-2 information from payroll and human resources professionals
  • "Verifying" tax return information over the phone
  • Pretending to be from the tax preparation industry

The IRS urges taxpayers to stay vigilant against these calls and to know the telltale signs of a scam demanding payment.

Remember, the IRS Will Never:

  • Call to demand immediate payment over the phone, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.
  • Threaten to immediately 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.

If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money and you don't owe taxes, here's what you should do:

  • Do not give out any information. Hang up immediately.
  • Contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) to report the call. Use their IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting web page or call toll-free 1-800-366-4484.
  • Report the call to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) by visiting FTC.gov and clicking on "File a Consumer Complaint." Please add "IRS Telephone Scam" in the notes.
  • If you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS directly at (800) 829-1040.

More information on how to report phishing or phone scams is available on IRS.gov.