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Forbes recently ran this article. Click here to read the original.
“My mother-in-law recently got this phone call: “We’re calling from the IRS and want to discuss your tax bill.”
The first rule of thumb is that the IRS doesn’t call people out of the blue. If you owe any money, they will send you a raft of computer-generated letters. I know, because I’ve gotten plenty of them over the years.
Secondly, this is a scam, pure and simple. These are telemarketing operations that want personal information like your Social Security number or bank account number.
If they use that line “we’re from the IRS,” they do that to scare you. No one wants to hear from the tax agency, so it immediately gets your attention.
These psychological ploys work because fraud merchants can use this technique on (usually) older people to get them to volunteer information for identity theft. Once they have vital information like Social Security numbers, they can open credit card accounts and start stealing — or just sell the information.
The latest scam using fake IRS callers involves a “federal student tax.” Here again, the IRS doesn’t legitimately call anyone about this and there is no student tax.
Here’s how the IRS says this latest swindle works:
“Even though the tax deadline has come and gone, scammers continue to use varied strategies to trick people, in this case students.
In this newest twist, they try to convince people to wire money immediately to the scammer. If the victim does not fall quickly enough for this fake `federal student tax,’ the scammer threatens to report the student to the police.”
It’s no coincidence that there’s some threat involved in this latest scam, which is often used in calling older people. They want you to be afraid so that you’ll give them information they can use to defraud you.
“Scam artists frequently masquerade as being from the IRS, a tax preparation company and sometimes even a state revenue department. Many 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.
Some examples of the varied tactics seen this year are:
– 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.”
Generally, any solicitor who immediately asks for money, credit/bank account information or other personal identification is trying to scam you. They can do this through emails (phishing) and the mail as well as phone calls.
The best defense against these calls is simple: Hang up. If you want to report them, the IRS has a Web site to register a complaint. Or you can call 800-366-4484.
What if you really need to talk with the IRS? You can call them directly at 1-800-829-1040. You have the right to question any tax bill or finding by the agency.”