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- IRS scam calls are a normal occurrence during tax season, unfortunately.
- Every year, the IRS warns taxpayers to beware of a long list of tax scams.
- The latest phone scam alleges there is “fraud and misconduct” associated with your taxes and urges you to return the call “immediately.”
The IRS isn’t exactly modern.
So when I recently got a voicemail admonishing me for supposed issues with the tax return I filed a few weeks ago, I knew it had to be the latest IRS phone scam.
A phone number from Washington, DC, called me and left a voicemail when I didn’t answer.
It was an automated message that said:
“Time sensitive and urgent … we found that there was a fraud and misconduct on your tax which you are hiding from federal government. This needs to be rectified immediately, so please return the call as soon as you receive the message.”
It told me to return the call to the same DC-area phone number displayed on my caller ID. It’s pretty clear this was a scam call, if not for the simple reason that the caller did not identify themselves as someone from the IRS. Also, as previously mentioned, the IRS prefers snail mail.
This is a sophisticated step in the latest tax scam Americans need to watch out for, according to the IRS. Scammers file a fake tax return with stolen personal information, like your Social Security number, and then use actual bank account information to have the refund deposited into your own account.
Then they call to collect, posing as the IRS or debt collectors demanding the return of the fraudulent tax refund. In some cases, the caller threatens criminal fraud charges, an arrest warrant, and to “blacklist” the taxpayer’s Social Security Number.
What to do if you receive an IRS scam call or a fraudulent tax refund
Never return a phone call from someone claiming to be with the IRS. Instead, individuals should call the IRS directly at 800-829-1040, and businesses should call 800-829-4933.
The US Department of Justice says the IRS never discusses personal tax issues through unsolicited emails or texts, or over social media. Always be wary if you are contacted by someone claiming to be from the IRS who says you owe money.
If you receive an unexpected and suspicious email from the IRS, forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you think you are a victim of identity theft or tax fraud, you should report it to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. The IRS also has detailed instructions on what to do if you are a victim of tax fraud. Taxpayers who receive a fraudulent tax refund should follow IRS guidelines for returning the money.
File as soon as possible to protect against other IRS scams
Since tax season presents plenty of opportunity for would-be identity thieves, the best way to protect against these IRS scam calls and other tax scams – especially potential identity theft – is to file your tax return as soon as possible.
The IRS says the fastest way to get your tax refund is the method already used by most taxpayers: filing electronically and selecting direct deposit as the method for receiving your refund.
The IRS says direct deposit – which the government also uses for Social Security and Veterans Affairs payments – is “simple, safe, and secure.”