You’ve probably been personally contacted by scam artists trying to get your personal bank account information. Small businesses are also targets for theft and fraud. Some scammers pretend to be with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service as a way to trick you out of money.
These con artists can sound convincing. They may know a lot about you or your business, and they usually alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling. They use fake names and bogus IRS badge numbers. If you don’t answer, they often leave an “urgent” call-back request.
“These telephone scams are being seen in every part of the country, and we urge people not to be deceived by these threatening phone calls,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “We have formal processes in place for people with tax issues. The IRS respects taxpayer rights, and these angry, shake-down calls are not how we do business.”
The IRS reminds taxpayers that you can know pretty easily when a supposed IRS caller is a fake. Here are five things scammers often do that the IRS does not. Any one of these five things is a tell-tale sign of a scam. The IRS will never:
1. Call you about taxes you owe without first mailing you an official notice.
2. Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
3. Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
4. Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
5. Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money,here’s what you should do:
If you know you owe taxes or think you might owe, call the IRS at 1-(800)-829-1040. The IRS workers can help you with a payment issue.
If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to believe that you do, report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1-(800)-366-4484 or at www.TIGTA.gov.
You can file a complaint using the FTC Complaint Assistant; choose “Other” and then “Imposter Scams.” If the complaint involves someone impersonating the IRS, include the words “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.
Remember, the IRS does not use unsolicited email, text messages or any social media to discuss your personal taxes. For more information on reporting tax scams, type “scam” in the search box at www.IRS.gov.
Info courtesy of Melody Green, stakeholder liaison for the Internal Revenue Service, which provides educational resources in partnership with small business organizations. Originally posted on MOSourceLink, a proud affiliate of U.S. SourceLink, America’s largest resource network for entrepreneurs.
This article appeared in LoudounPreneur, Loudoun’s small business newsletter. Subscribe here.