Watching Out for Fraudulent IRS Messages

As we enter into another tax season, it pays to be mindful of the various scams that may target you. You may have already received some suspicious emails or calls, ones claiming to be from the IRS and demanding payments. Based on a large number of complaints, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration has identified roughly 1,100 victims of such fraudulent emails, adding up to losses of about $5 million.

Fortunately, there are easy ways to protect yourself from such scam emails or phone calls. Simply be on the lookout for the red flags that go along with false IRS communications, including the following:

  • The communication is unexpected. If the IRS has an issue to discuss with you, they will not call or email you out of the blue; you should expect official correspondence sent through the mail.
  • Your contact requests sensitive payment information. The IRS will never ask for credit card or debit card numbers over the phone.
  • You are expected to use a specific payment method to settle your alleged debt.
  • You are expected to make immediate payment. The IRS will usually give you prior notification before enforcement action is required.

Remember that scammers will often come prepared to deceive you. They may be able to recite the last four digits of your Social Security number. After your first call, you may receive a follow-up email or a second call from a fraudulent local authority to support the ruse. Be mindful of these tactics, and don’t let them fool you.

If you receive a call or an email from someone claiming to be from the IRS, there are several actions you can take. If you think you might, in fact, owe money, you can call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 to settle up. If you know that you do not owe money, you can report the scam by calling TIGTA at 1-800-366-4484.

Remain vigilant this tax season, and please contact Seattle CPA Alisa Na for all of your financial needs.