As longtime, successful Colorado accountants, at NetProphet, we hear from our clients, all the time, disturbing stories of scammers attempting to collect money from innocent taxpayers.
It’s one thing to have to pay the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) money you owe. It’s another, criminal act, to be scammed into believing you owe money you don’t. Yet, countless people, in and around the Colorado area, continue to pay millions of dollars annually through email and phone scams.
Scammers go to great lengths to mimic the IRS, and, too often, are successful in their victimizing efforts, using a variety of approaches, including:
• the postal service
• your private or business phone
• your email account
The number one thing to keep in mind is, the IRS will never contact taxpayers through email, text messages or social media. The IRS will also never threaten a taxpayer with a lawsuit or possible imprisonment or any other type of criminal punishment.
One of the most common ways a scammer contacts an individual is through their phone, and they usually use the following means to intimidate the victim into immediately believing the caller is a legitimate IRS agent:
• Caller alters caller I.D., so communication appears legitimate
• Caller states that he, or she, works for the IRS
• Caller uses familiar ways to claim money is owed, as in mentioning your name and/or other personal information
• Caller attempts to intimidate, and/or make demands
• Caller states that if money is not paid, victim will be arrested, deported and/or business license will be revoked
• Caller demands that money owed must be paid immediately through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer
• Caller usually speaks with urgency, or uses an overly authoritative tone and can even be hostile and/or insulting
• Some callers even use the tactic that you qualified for a refund, to get your personal information.
• Voicemails are commonplace, with an urgent message to return the call
The IRS never works this way. Typically, the IRS will send a bill or other form of postal service communication to discuss your specific tax situation. In addition, keep in mind that tax scammers will also try to contact taxpayers through their email accounts, sometimes mimicking your tax software, or seeking information regarding your tax refund, or demand your PIN number, or other means to gain your personal information.
The newest scam is to approach individuals with requirements to share Life Insurance or Annuity updates. Another scam involves requests for necessary information from your current tax form.
What can you do? If you are approached through a phone call, hang up. If through an email, do not respond. If you have any questions, contact the IRS to make sure the request is legitimate. If it is not, report this to firstname.lastname@example.org or call (800) 366-4484.
At Net Prophet, our accountants are here to help you resolve any IRS communication concerns you might have. In the Colorado area, contact us today at netprophet.biz or at (303) 396-5707.