By Christine Anderson Ferraris
Many of us know of someone who has lost money and possibly their personal information to a tax scam.
Probably the most important thing to share is that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will not initiate contact with a taxpayer by email, text message, or social media channels or a phone call to request personal or financial information.
Here are a few telltale signs of a tax scam:
A phone call demanding immediate payment. Generally, the IRS will make an initial demand for payment by mailing the bill to the taxpayer who may owe taxes.
A demand of any kind that you pay an amount without any opportunity to question. Any demand for payment from the IRS should include a reference to your rights as a taxpayer, see https://www.irs.gov/taxpayer-bill-of-rights for the IRS’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights.
A threat that you will be sued, or the police will be sent to you arrest you, or immigration enforcement will be contacted.
The IRS does not have the authority to take action without notice, nor does the IRS have the authority often used as tactics by scammers to trick consumers, such as: revoke your driver’s license or business license, or seek to challenge or report immigration status.
It is possible for an IRS agent to go to a business or home unannounced to collect a debt but they will not make a demand for immediate payment. Generally, what you should expect if an IRS representative visits you, is for he or she to provide two forms of official credentials called a pocket commission and a HSPD-12 card.
The HSPD-12 is a government- standard for secure and reliable forms of identification for federal employees and contractors. You have the right to request to see these credentials. You may also verify information on the representative’s HSPD-12 card by asking the representative to provide you with an IRS telephone number to verify and confirm their identity.
You may receive a call from an IRS agent to schedule a time to discuss items with the taxpayer but prior to the call one should have first received a notice by mail. For more information about discerning if it is really the IRS coming to audit, go to this IRS website page: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/how-to-know-its-really-the-irs-calling-or-knocking-on-your-door-audits
Who to Contact to Report a Scam
To report a tax scam, you may contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. Use their “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” web page: https://www.treasury.gov/tigta/contact_report_scam.shtml. You can also call 800-366-4484.
To report a phone tax scam, you may contact the Federal Trade Commission using the “FTC Complaint Assistant” at https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/#/.
To report an unsolicited email claiming to be from the IRS, you may forward the email to the IRS at email@example.com.
We hope this information is helpful, please share it to help others avoid getting scammed. If you have any topics you would like to learn about let us know.
The information provided does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information is for general informational purposes only. Information may not constitute the most up-to-date information. Links provided are only for the convenience of the reader, A. Ferraris Law, PLLC and its members do not endorse the contents of the third-party references.
Christine Anderson Ferraris and her firm, A. Ferraris Law, assist consumers and business owners harmed by the government, or another business. She has been for several years the race director for the CV50/50 children’s trail run in Colossal Cave Mountain Park each November.