IRS warning: Scammers work year-round; stay vigilant
This year, the Internal Revenue Service encourages taxpayers to keep their personal and financial information safe and on the lookout for IRS impersonation scams or other schemes aimed at defrauding people of their hard-earned money.
Fraudulent text messages, phishing emails, and phone scams are just a few examples. People should be aware of indicators of possible jobless fraud during tax season, according to the IRS.
"With the start of tax filing season, this is a good time for identity thieves to target consumers with fake tax returns and refunds in the form of emails and texts," said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. By being aware of these frequent scams, consumers can avoid becoming victims of identity theft and secure their personal information, which could be exploited to steal refunds and file tax returns."
Since 2015, the IRS, state tax agencies, and the nation's tax industry have worked together as part of the Security Summit project to protect taxpayers, businesses, and the tax system against identity thieves. This tax season, Summit partners continue to advise individuals to be on the lookout for classic tax frauds and schemes.
Text messages impersonating the IRS were on the rise last year. COVID-19 and/or "stimulus payments" are frequently mentioned in these scams, which are delivered to victims' smartphones and often contain false URLs claiming to be IRS websites or other online resources. In addition to the IRS Secure Access, the IRS does not use text messages to discuss personal tax concerns such as invoices or refunds with taxpayers. Taxpayers will also not get notifications from the IRS via social media networks.
In the event that a taxpayer receives an unsolicited text/sms message that looks to be from the IRS or a program that is closely tied to the IRS, the taxpayer should take a screenshot of the text message and send it to [email protected] with the following information:
- Date/time/time zone they received the text message
- Phone number that received the text message
Unsolicited, suspicious, or unexpected text messages – whether from the IRS, state tax agencies, or others in the tax community – should not be opened or clicked on in the IRS, state tax agencies, or other tax professionals.
The IRS warns workers to be on the lookout for claims of unemployment or other benefits for which they never applied as the new tax season begins. Fraudulent unemployment claims filed by organized crime groups using stolen identities are on the rise in the United States. These stolen identities are being used by criminals to defraud people of their benefits.
In order to disclose the amount of taxable compensation received as well as any withholding, states issue Form 1099-G, Certain Government Payments, to beneficiaries and the IRS because unemployment benefits are taxable income. Any employee who receives a 1099-G that is false or incorrect should contact the state agency that issued it and seek a corrected Form 1099-G.
Taxpayers can go to the U.S. Department of Labor's website to learn more about how to report fraud to state workforce agencies, how to get a corrected Form 1099-G, how to discover a list of state contacts, and other measures to take if you're being charged with unemployment. The DOL.gov/fraud page of the Department of Labor.
Individuals may be victims of unemployment identity theft if they received:
- A letter from a government agency informing them of a payment or claim for unemployment benefits that they did not file. This could be from any state and could involve unanticipated payments or debit cards.
- Unemployment benefits they didn't expect or didn't receive were reported on an IRS Form 1099-G. This form's first box may display an amount that exceeds their records for benefits they did receive or an amount that they did not receive. It's possible that the paperwork is from a state where they didn't apply for benefits.
A communication from their employer informing them that a request for information on an unemployment claim has been received.
Email phishing scams
Email is not used by the IRS to contact taxpayers and solicit personal or financial information. The majority of IRS communications are initiated via normal mail, which is delivered by the US Postal Service.
Send an attachment to [email protected] if a taxpayer receives an unsolicited email that purports to be from the IRS or a program closely tied to the IRS that is fake. Complete information can be found on IRS.gov's Report Phishing and Online Scams website.
When the IRS calls or comes to a house or company, there are several exceptions. When a taxpayer has an outstanding tax bill, a delinquent tax return, or a delinquent employment tax payment, these visits are made. During a civil inquiry (such as an audit or collection case) or a criminal investigation, the IRS may visit if it needs to tour a business. The IRS has explicit instructions on how to tell if it's the IRS knocking on your door.
Pre-recorded, urgent, or threatening messages are not left by the IRS. Victims are advised that if they do not call back, a warrant for their arrest will be issued if they do not call back. Intervention by law enforcement agencies, deportation, or license revocation are all examples of verbal threats.
Caller ID numbers can be forged or "spoof" to appear to be from any location in the country, including an IRS office. Taxpayers are unable to verify the genuine call number as a result of this. To persuade taxpayers that the call is authentic, fraudsters have fake local sheriff's offices, state department of motor vehicles, federal authorities, and others.
The IRS (and its authorized private collection agencies) will never:
- To demand payment right away, such as with a prepaid debit card, a gift card, or a wire transfer, call. For tax payments, the IRS does not use these methods.
- Threaten to send in local police or other law enforcement agencies as soon as possible to arrest the taxpayer if he or she fails to pay.
- Demand that taxes be paid without allowing the taxpayer a chance to dispute or appeal the amount owed to the government.
- Over the phone, ask for the numbers of your credit or debit cards.
In most cases, the IRS will send a bill to any taxpayer who owes money. Only the United States shall be the recipient of all tax payments. Third-party checks and treasury bills should never be made payable to.
For anyone who doesn't owe taxes and has no reason to think they do:
- Don't divulge any personal information. Stop talking right now.
- To report the call, go to IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting and contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.
- Email [email protected] with the caller ID and/or callback number to the IRS (Subject: IRS Phone Scam).
- On FTC.gov, you can report it to the Federal Trade Commission. In the notes, write "IRS Telephone Scam."
For anyone who owes tax or thinks they do:
- To view the actual amount owed, go to IRS.gov and look up your tax account information. Taxpayers might also look at their choices for making payments.
- Contact the billing notice's phone number or
- The IRS can be reached at 800-829-1040. Employees of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) are able to assist you
Help for victims of ID theft
Unfortunately, identity theft is a common result of scams and schemes. Even though there are many consequences to identity theft, the IRS focuses on tax-related identity theft.
When a person's stolen Social Security number (SSN) is used to file a tax return claiming a bogus refund, this is known as tax-related identity theft. Until they e-file a tax return and discover that a return has already been filed using their SSN, taxpayers may not be aware of this behavior. Alternatively, the IRS may send them a letter informing them that their SSN has been used to identify a questionable return.
The IRS suggests taking the following procedures if a taxpayer's Social Security number has been compromised, or if they know or think they are a victim of tax-related identity theft:
- Anyone who receives an IRS notification should call the number provided as soon as possible.
- If an e-file tax return is rejected due to a duplicate filing under their SSN or if the IRS tells them to do so, taxpayers should fill out IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit PDF. Individuals can fill out a form on IRS.gov, print it out, attach it to their paper return, and mail it according to the instructions.
- Even if they have to file their tax return on paper, victims of tax-related identity theft should continue to pay their taxes and file their tax returns.
- Taxpayers who have already contacted the IRS concerning tax-related identity theft and have not received a response should call 800-908-4490 for expert assistance.
The IRS's website, IRS.gov/identitytheft, and the Federal Trade Commission's website, IdentityTheft.gov, include more information.
IRS.gov is the official IRS website. Imitation websites with the suffix.com should be avoided at all costs. This is also true for other IRS tools like Free File, which also end in.gov.
Visit IRS.gov's Tax Scams and Consumer Alerts page for further information. On IRS social media sites, including YouTube videos, you can find more information regarding tax evasion frauds.
Disclaimer: This article was originally published at https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-warning-scammers-work-year-round-stay-vigilant.