Posted: 7/10/2017

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Dealing with taxes can be a taxing experience. Just hearing the words “Internal Revenue Service” can cause anxiety and fear. For some that fear becomes real when dealing with IRS scammers. Imagine getting a call from someone claiming to be an IRS agent, saying you owe the IRS and if you don’t pay immediately you will be arrested or face some other punishment.

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Dealing with taxes can be a taxing experience. Just hearing the words “Internal Revenue Service” can cause anxiety and fear. For some that fear becomes real when dealing with IRS scammers. Imagine getting a call from someone claiming to be an IRS agent, saying you owe the IRS and if you don’t pay immediately you will be arrested or face some other punishment. Many consumers experiencing similar scenarios are reporting the incidents to Business Consumer Alliance. The complainants are typically scared that the calls are legitimate and seek advice on what to do. Here is some information to help deal with IRS scammers.

Is the IRS Calling?

IRS phishing scams are nothing new. Annually the IRS, U.S. Treasury, and Federal Trade Commission release consumer alerts to warn of these types of scam calls. In the past, a consistent piece of advice was that the IRS will never call you. That may not be the case any longer since a new law was passed in 2015 that allows the IRS to use private debt collectors to collect on outstanding tax debts. While these collectors may call and identify themselves as being connected with the IRS, they will not call out of the blue. This is one way to identify a scam. The legitimate collectors will only call after the IRS has sent written notification regarding the debt and letters regarding the assignment to one of four private debt collection agencies. These collectors must abide by the debt collection laws and must follow specific guidelines.

Identifying Phone Scammers

Taking a look at the many complaints BCA has received regarding IRS scams, you’ll notice a common theme. The callers want money and they want it right away. They use threats and intimidation tactics to get individuals to wire money, make payment through unconventional ways such as loading money onto iTunes cards or prepaid debit cards, or get the victim to release personal and financial information. These are telltale signs of a con. Taxpayers should beware of anyone that uses these or any of the following tactics:

  • Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law enforcement groups to have the taxpayer arrested for not paying.
  • Demand that taxes be paid without giving the taxpayer the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
  • Contact you by robocall or leave automated messages.
  • Have you make out a check payable to anyone other than the U.S. Treasury.
  • Use aggressive or bullying  tactics to collect payment.

What to Do If You Get a Scam Call

If you receive a scam call, hang up immediately. Never give out your information to unsolicited callers. And don’t be fooled by your caller ID if it says IRS. Con artists often spoof numbers to fool their victims. In addition, scammers should be reported right away. Start by filing a complaint with BCA. Take note of the name of the person calling, the phone number used, and as many details as you can recall about the contact. Use this information when reporting the scam. You should also report these scams to the government. If the caller claims to be calling from the IRS, contact the agency by phone at (800) 366-4484 or by email to phishing@irs.gov. You can also contact TIGTA. Another agency you may wish to contact is the U.S. Treasury who can be reached by phone at (202) 622-2000, fax (202) 622-6415, or email OIGCounsel@oig.treas.gov.

Dealing With Tax Debt

Individuals who are behind on their taxes should contact the IRS to set up a payment plan or find other types of relief. Some remedies offered by the IRS include monthly installments, offer-in-compromise plans, temporarily delay collection and more. Contact your local IRS office or a Taxpayer Assistance Center for more information. BCA also has a directory of Tax Consultants available.

Related Articles

Tax Phishing Scams Aim At New Targets

7 Warning Signs to Identify Phony IRS Collector Calls

About Business Consumer Alliance

Business Consumer Alliance (BCA) is a non-profit company that started in 1928. The broad purpose of BCA is to promote business self-regulation. BCA's mission is achieved by assisting consumers in resolving complaints with businesses and using that complaint information, along with other relevant information such as customer reviews, to forecast business reliability. With community support, BCA can identify trustworthy and ethical businesses and warn the public to avoid unscrupulous businesses whose purpose is to defraud the marketplace. BCA also helps businesses promote themselves by providing services and tools to protect their business and reach out to their customers. BCA obtains its funding from member businesses who support the mission and purpose of the organization and who agree to abide by high standards of ethical business practices.

Tags: IRS, scams

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What is this program?

The Consumer Ally program is free for consumers to join. At BCA, we feel it's very important to educate the public on trends like scams, new laws and providing helpful tips to empower the public in making wise purchasing decisions. This program is an elite community of consumers who share our vision for a safe marketplace. We can't be everywhere at once so we depend on feedback from the public to help our efforts.

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