Wednesday, May 18, 2016

IRS TELEPHONE FRAUD


The IRS recently warned taxpayers to remain vigilant against ongoing IRS telephone fraud scams.  Many areas of the country are experiencing an escalation in telephone scams involving people pretending to be the IRS.  These scammers make false claims to trick taxpayers into providing personal information over the phone.  Some of the false claims include immediate jail time for unpaid taxes or an unclaimed tax refund set to expire.  Please help spread the word to friends and family to remain vigilant. 

Remember, never disclose personal information to unsolicited phone calls, even if you believe the caller is legitimate.  For example, let us assume you forgot to pay your cell phone bill the past few months and you receive a phone call from your cell phone carrier.  The caller then offers you a 10% discount on unpaid bills if you pay immediately.  Don’t let this trick you.  Any reputable company would allow you to take the name and number of the person offering you the discount and then allow you to end the call and decide if you want to take them up on the offer.  At that point, you could research the correct number to contact your cell phone carrier and then initiate the call to your phone carrier.  This will allow you to validate the original caller.

Unfortunately, when it comes to unsolicited phone calls asking for personal information, people need to assume the caller is guilty until proven innocent.  Scammers are looking for personal information related to your finances so they then have the information to call you with what appears to be a legitimate phone call.  Whether the caller says they are from the IRS, Social Security, T-Mobile or local police department, if you are not 100% sure of the caller’s identity then simply ask to take their name and number and end the call.  Then, independently verify the correct phone number for the company/organization and then call the company/organization to verify if the original caller was legitimate.  The criminals will eventually move on from the IRS scam and begin to falsely represent other organizations.

Nick S. Wold, CPA, MA

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