Getting a phone call from the IRS can be scary. If the person on the other end of the line tells you that you owe thousands in back income taxes and must pay now, it may seem like you have no choice.
Don’t be fooled. The person you are talking to is not an IRS agent, as they may claim. The IRS says that it has become a common scam for con artists to defraud people out of their money and personal information by posing as representatives of the agency.
It appears that this scam is on the rise, leading to the IRS issuing a recent alert. For those worried how to distinguish a phony IRS agent from a legitimate alert of a possible audit, here are some tips:
- The IRS never calls taxpayers without mailing them an official notice first. Neither do they communicate over email, text message or social media.
- Taxpayers have the right to challenge or appeal any alleged back tax bill. Demands that you pay immediately are a huge red flag.
- A real IRS agent will not demand you pay using a specific method, or ask for your credit or debit card number over the phone
- Threats to have you arrested are another sign of a scam.
Anyone who receives one of these calls should be suspicious, but it is understandable that some people get manipulated into paying their “taxes.” Those who are unsure if they really owe federal income taxes or not may wish to speak with a tax attorney.
Source: NJ.com, “Bamboozled: Pay IRS debt or face immediate arrest. Nah. It’s a scam,” Karin Price Mueller, Sept. 25, 2014