Earlier this month we had the National Tax Security Awareness Week, and during such, efforts are made in order to keep taxpayers informed and prepared to avoid being victims of fraud. As most of us start preparing our year-end paperwork, we need to know how to avoid falling for a tax collection scam. During this season, fraudsters start targeting and attacking unsuspecting taxpayers across the country.
In order to avoid finding ourselves in this kind of situation, there are some aspects we need to consider. First of all, we need to be fully aware of what a tax collection scam really entails. Then we must be ready to identify the different signs that can give a fraudster away. Also, we must know what to do in case we happened to become victims of a tax collection scam.
What Is a Tax Collection Scam?
The term Tax Collection Scam, or Tax Scam, refers to any kind of fraudulent contact that attempts to deceit a person into paying a given amount to a fraudster pretending to be an IRS employee. The most common type of Tax Scams is fraud phone calls. However, during the last couple of years, fraudsters have also sent phishing emails to taxpayers.
In most cases, scammers will tell you that you have a balance of overdue taxes or penalties. They will urge you to make a deposit as soon as possible, too. It is also common to receive threats of arrest, deportation, and loss of business, too.
How Can You Identify a Tax Collection Scam?
There are many signs that can give away a tax scammer quite easily. The very first thing we need to know is that the IRS never contacts taxpayers by phone. If you happened to have an overdue balance with them, the IRS would contact you by letter, first.
Second, the IRS does not request taxpayers to make payments via direct deposits or wire transfers or using a credit card over the phone. They have a secure online portal where taxpayers can make payments in a safe and monitored way. You can find more about their payment options here.
You should remember that scammers will use common names and even give fake IRS badge numbers. Also, they can make the Caller ID display the name of the IRS in order to trick taxpayers. They might also be able to give you the last 4 digits of your Social Security number. Therefore, you must remain alert in case you are being the target of a tax collection scam.
What to Do If Am A Target of a Tax Collection Scam?
Whenever we suspect a fraudster is trying to make us fall for a tax collection scam, we must always remain calm. Even when they might sound aggressive and threatening, we should stay calm and disconnect the call. Never confirm nor provide any of the information they might give or ask from you. Instead of engaging with the scammers, hang up and contact the IRS immediately. They will be able to confirm or deny whether you have an overdue balance with them or not.
They also have a security awareness campaign called “Taxes. Security. Together.” that aims at creating a strong partnership among taxpayers and professionals. They have a list of prevention steps to take in order to avoid falling into any kind of tax collection scam.