Lost in the recent news regarding stolen identities at Snapchat and the credit and debit card theft at major retailers, is the dramatic increase in identity theft and scams using the IRS. One of the more recent scams announced by the IRS is worth noting.
Callers identifying themselves as the IRS phone you and disclose that you owe delinquent taxes. They say that unless there is immediate payment by debit or credit card you may be subject to immediate deportation, arrest, loss of a license or loss of your business.
Why does this work?
These callers sound legitimate and the scams are often fairly sophisticated. Per the IRS, the callers who commit this fraud often;
- Use common names and fake IRS badge numbers.
- Know the last four digits of the victim’s Social Security number.
- Make caller ID appear as if the IRS is calling.
- Send bogus IRS emails to support their scam.
- Call a second time claiming to be the police or DMV, and caller ID again supports their claim.
What can you do?
While the IRS never initiates communication via email, they sometimes do initiate contact via the phone. So what steps can you take to ensure this does not happen to you?
- Mail is the typical IRS contact vehicle. Initial communication with the IRS is most often the mail. Your fraud alert should go way up with a phone call or email.
- No personal information from you. Never give personal information to the caller. This is true even if the person calling sounds legitimate.
- Get their information. Get the caller to give you all the information they have on the case. Get their badge number. Also get the name of their supervisor and the division they work with at the agency. Then hang up.
- Initiate the contact. After hanging up, contact the IRS. You can then confirm whether the call was legitimate. Here are the legitimate contact points:
If, by chance, the request appears to be genuine please ask for help prior to sharing any information. As the old adage goes, it is better to be safe than sorry.