THE IRS DOES NOT CALL
If you have been reading my legal column for the last year you know of my warnings of telephone and IRS scams spreading westward from the east coast. Well they’re HERE.
There are several nationwide groups perpetrating this pervasive scam with some from overseas. The fake IRS agent calls the taxpayer claiming they owe taxes and demanding immediate payment with a prepaid debit card or wire transfer.
Law enforcement is "on the way" they claim and will arrest and close down your business. They scare the taxpayer threatening custody, deportation of illegals and loss of your California Driver’s License.
Last week the Desert Sun again printed several articles warning of alleged IRS calls. My friend Stan Sniff, the Sheriff of Riverside County, this week sent out a warning too. Scammers are targeting citizens with threats of arrest or liens against property for failing to pay past tax debts. The scammer then obtains credit card information or instruct the citizen to obtain a Green Dot card for the "outstanding tax debt." Once this information is given to the scammer, the funds are immediately withdrawn.
If the IRS calls hang up!!!! They first contact people by mail, not by phone, about unpaid taxes. In addition the IRS will not ask for payment using a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer. The IRS won’t ask for credit card information over the phone.
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) website recommends this: if you get a call from someone claiming to be with the IRS asking for payment, here is what to do:
- If you owe Federal taxes or think you might owe taxes, hang up and call the IRS at 800 829 1040. The IRS workers can help you with your payment questions.
- If you do not owe taxes fill out the "IRS Impersonation Scam form on TIGTA’s website/ www.treasury.gov/tigta or call 800 366 4484.
- You should also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at www.FTC.gov. Add "IRS telephone scam" to the comments in your complaints.
The IRS and TIGTA both encourage taxpayers to be alert for phone and e-mail scams that use the IRS name. THE IRS will never request personal or financial information by email, texting or any social media. Forward scam emails to firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t open any attachments or click on any links in those emails.
The IRS does not call taxpayers but would instead send a letter. However it is not that hard to print IRS stationary with a fake number. Upon receiving a call or dialing out, the caller ID will show "IRS". As an elderly resort community we are considered easy pickings.
There are many take-off’s on this SCAM going on every minute of the day:
- A caller claims to be a law enforcement officer acting on behalf of the IRS, or with the Palm Springs Police or Riverside County Sheriff. The caller ID confirms same. If this happens… call the IRS 800-829- 1040 or forward their emails to phishing@IRS.gov.
- A caller claiming to be a City official or Sheriff’s Department threatens "you missed Jury Duty" and asks for Money Orders to correct same. They may request you call with the information on the back of the suggested money order you are ordered to purchase… or ask you for a prepaid debit card.
Report FRAUD /ID thefts:
Federal Trade Commission ID Theft Hotline 877 ID Theft/ www.consumer.gov/idtheft Social Security hotline 800-269-0271 or www.ssa.gov/oig Contact credit bureaus: Equifax: 800-525-6285/ www.equifax.com Experian: 888-397-3742/ www.experian.com Transunion: 800-680-7289/ www.transunion.com
Keep the above numbers in a safe place just in case! Remember the bottom line is that everything is not always as it seems so be careful and check before giving out any private information.