With tax season comes tax scam season. One scam that's being called out this year is a telephone scam demanding immediate payment of back taxes.
Many people are receiving threatening and aggressive pre-recorded phone calls from someone claiming to be with the IRS saying they owe thousands of dollars in back taxes.
Potential victims are directed to provide credit, debit, or prepaid card numbers over the telephone. Victims are also threatened with arrest, deportation, having the utilities shut off, or having driver's licenses revoked.
Signs to Look Out For
A Treasury Department investigator told CBS News this is the "largest, most pervasive impersonation scam in the history of the agency." As many as 366,000 people have reported receiving a call, and victims have lost up to $15.5 million.
Common characteristics of this scam include:
- The caller will give a fake name and IRS badge number.
- The caller often recites the last four digits of your Social Security number.
- Your caller ID may show the IRS' toll-free number.
- The caller gives you a number to call back, and threatens to call the police if you don't.
Is It Really the IRS?
Also keep in mind that the IRS will never call you to demand payment. According to an IRS news release, the IRS will always initiate contact with taxpayers though written communication sent via U.S. mail. The IRS will also never ask you to pay immediately or demand payment information over the phone.
If you do receive a call you think may be a scam, you can call the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at (800) 366-4484 to report the incident. If you think you may owe back taxes and receive a similar call, you can call the IRS at (800) 829-1040 to verify with a real IRS employee. You can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at FTC Complaint Assistant. Whatever you do, don't call the scammers back.
- I-Team: Thousands Lose Money Falling For Sophisticated Tax Scam (Boston's WBZ-TV)
- IRS Warns Tax Preparers to Watch out for New Phishing Scam (IRS)
- Filing Taxes Late: What Are the Penalties? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
- Legal How-To: Paying Your Taxes in Installments (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)