April 18th this year will be the official deadline for filing tax returns with the IRS. The IRS marked January 23rd as the official start of the season for taxes according to a recent press release. As with many other seasons, fraudsters and scammers will attempt to steal members returns or personal information. During tax season, fraudsters consistent method for contacting victims is a phone call. Once on the phone, the fraudster will pose as an agent from the IRS, FDIC, Taxpayer Advocate Service, Law Enforcement, of some other official. The fraudster will claim the individuals Social Security number has been suspended, threaten arrest, deportation, license revocation, or demand payment for taxes. All these tactics are untrue and not normal practices for the IRS or any agency. The fraudsters use intimidation and scare tactics trying to convince individuals to give their personal information, credit, or debit card, or demand some form of payment.
These phone calls are aggressive in nature and deliberately designed to lure victims into a response with the fraudster. Members should remember fraudsters can “spoof” or fake legitimate phone numbers such as the IRS, local sheriff’s offices, state departments, federal agencies, and Coastal. There is no obligation to speak with anyone on a phone call. Members are encouraged to simply hang up the phone and start a new call to the organization asking for information. Additionally, it is always advised to verify by contacting the agency or business attempting to reach members. Legitimate businesses, organizations, and agencies understand and support verification and protection of personal identification information (PII).
In addition to phone calls, fraudsters and scammers still utilize e-mail and texts messages to gain access to personal information. The IRS initiates most contact through regular mail via US Postal Service. The IRS does not initiate contact via e-mail or text message for business and personal financial information. Members are reminded not to click on any hyperlinks within these e-mails or text messages as they may contain malware or be a phishing scam. [email protected]
The IRS issues warnings each year for taxpayers to protect their returns and personal information. These can be found directly on the IRS website along with some tips the IRS will never do.
- The IRS will never call unexpectedly about a tax refund.
- The IRS will never call to demand immediate payment, such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer.
- The IRS will never threaten to send to the police or law enforcement for unpaid taxes.
- The IRS will never send taxpayers messages via social media platforms.
If you believe that your identity has been stolen or someone has used your social security number to file a tax return claiming a fraudulent refund, visit the IRS website at https://www.irs.gov/ or call Coastals Fraud Department at (919) 420-8211.
Jonathan Smith is a former NC Law Enforcement Officer & Instructor, Certified Fraud Examiner, and Coastals Fraud Operations Manager