‘Ever heard of the ‘Federal Student Tax?’ It’s just one of the latest phone scams used by IRS impersonators to steal money from taxpayers.
Scammers typically identify themselves as IRS employees or a state revenue department. They target students to convince them to wire money immediately to the scammer. If the victim doesn’t want to comply, the scammer threatens to report the student to the police or take away their drivers’ license.
So far in the 2016 tax season, the IRS has seen an approximate 400 percent surge in phishing and malware incidents.
These e-mails are designed to trick taxpayers into thinking these are official communications from the IRS or others in the tax industry, such as tax software companies. The e-mails may request information related to refunds, filing status, confirming personal information, ordering transcripts or verifying PIN information. The same scams may arrive via text messages.
When people click on the email or text links, they are taken to sites designed to imitate an official-looking website, such as IRS.gov. The sites ask for Social Security numbers and other personal information, which could be used to help file false tax returns. The sites also may carry malware, which infects computers and allows criminals to access your files or track your keystrokes to gain information.
Other examples of scammer tactics 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
Knowing what the IRS won’t do can help you recognize a phone scam. The IRS will never:
- Call to demand immediate payment over the phone
- Call about taxes owed without your receipt of a paper bill
- Threaten to bring in law-enforcement to arrest you for not paying
- Demand that you pay taxes without the opportunity to question or appeal the amount
- 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 or an email message from someone claiming to be from the IRS asking for money and you don’t owe taxes, do not give the person any information. Instead, report the suspected scam to the IRS. If you think you owe taxes, don’t talk with the person who calls you. Instead make your own call to your tax advisor or directly to the IRS at 1-800-829-1040.