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New Twist on Old Phone Scam

April 30, 2018
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In the recent News Release IR 2018-103, the IRS warns Taxpayers about a new variation on an old phone scam.

Criminals are now calling taxpayers claiming to be from local IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers (TACs). They accomplish this by spoofing the calls, i.e., programming their computers to display TAC phone numbers, which appear on the taxpayer's Caller ID, to make it appear they are calling from an IRS TAC office. If the taxpayer questions whether or not the call is legitimate, the scam artist/criminal directs the taxpayer to IRS.gov website to double-check and substantiate the local TAC office phone number. Once this has been done, the scam artist will call back and try to trick taxpayers into paying fake tax bills and demands money, generally on a debit card.

The IRS reminds taxpayers that it almost always initiates contact through regular mail delivered by the U.S. Postal Service. Collection efforts normally originate from the IRS’ Collections Department and involve a series of notices sent by U.S. Mail. TAC offices do not make calls to taxpayers demanding payment of outstanding tax bills. Furthermore, the IRS will not call to demand immediate payment of a tax bill over the phone, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill and given you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount it says you owe. Also, the IRS will not require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, or ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

The following are suggestions for what to do if you receive a suspicious phone call or message from someone claiming to be from the IRS:

  • Do not engage with the caller or give out any information and immediately hang up.
  • If you receive a phone call or a telephone message from someone claiming to be with the IRS, and you owe tax or think you may owe tax, do not give out any information or call them back. Instead, you can call the IRS directly at 1.800.829.1040 to discuss your specific situation.
  • Taxpayers who receive the IRS phone scam or any IRS impersonation scam can report it to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (www.tiga.gov) at its IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting site (or by calling 1.800.366.4484) and to the IRS by emailing phishing@irs.gov with the subject line “IRS Phone Scam.” 

Remember to use caution and stay vigilant in safeguarding your personal information.

Eric Itzkowitz is a director specializing in providing tax, advisory, and estate planning and administration services to trusts and estates, high net worth individuals, family groups, and closely held businesses. He can be reached at 646-979-5021 or at eitzkowitz@citrincooperman.com.