Spotting IRS impersonators can protect personal & employee information related to tax return filings., Rolf Neuweiler, A2ZCFO (image: impersonator stealing)

IRS Impersonators and Scams Related to Tax Returns

Many people reported that they have received IRS impersonators’ calls, and sadly some fell victims of various scam schemes after being intimidated into paying a fabricated tax bill. Thousands of people have lost millions of dollars and their personal information to tax scams. Scammers use the regular mail, telephone, or email to set up individuals, businesses, payroll and tax professionals. On the IRS website, there is a comprehensive listing of recent tax scams and consumer alerts: Tax Scams/Consumer Alerts.
Listed below is a non-exhaustive list about some common misconceptions about how the IRS communicate with taxpayers and the clarifications by the IRS, as well as scams targeted at professional tax preparers and HR professionals and remedial steps.

#1: Does the IRS email or text someone for personal information?

The IRS doesn’t initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or social media channels to request personal or financial information.

There is a surge of fraudulent emails impersonating the IRS and using tax transcripts as bait to entice users to open documents containing malware. See IR-2018-226.

#2: Does the IRS call to demand immediate payment using debit card, gift card or wire transfer?

No. Generally, the IRS will first mail a bill to any taxpayer who owes taxes. IRS does not demand that you pay taxes without the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe. You should also be advised of your rights as a taxpayer.

#3: Does the IRS threaten to bring in police, immigration officer, or to revoke one’s driver’s license or business license to force someone to pay taxes?

No. Threats like these are common tactics scam artists use to trick victims into buying into their schemes.

#4: Will IRS visit a person unannounced?

Yes. IRS collection employees may call or come to a home or business unannounced to collect a tax debt. They will not demand that you make an immediate payment to a source other than the U.S. Treasury.

#5: Can you demand an IRS agent to show ID and verify the agent’s credentials?

Yes. If an IRS representative visits you, he or she will always provide two forms of official credentials called a pocket commission and a HSPD-12 card. HSPD-12 is a government-wide standard for secure and reliable forms of identification for federal employees and contractors. You have the right to see these credentials. And if you would like to verify information on the representative’s HSPD-12 card, the representative will provide you with a dedicated IRS telephone number for verifying the information and confirming their identity.

#6: Can Taxpayer Advocacy Panel (TAP) issue tax refund?

No. TAP is a volunteer board that advises the IRS on systemic issues affecting taxpayers. It never requests, and does not have access to, any taxpayer’s personal and financial information.
Some taxpayers receive emails that appear to be from the Taxpayer Advocacy Panel (TAP) about a tax refund. These emails are a phishing scam, trying to trick victims into providing personal and financial information. Do not respond or click any link. If you receive this scam, forward it to and note that it seems to be a scam phishing for your information.

#7: Can W-2 information be solicited by scams from HR professionals?

Yes. The W-2 scam is just one of several new variations that focus on the large-scale theft of sensitive tax information from tax preparers, businesses and payroll companies.

The IRS has established a process that will allow businesses and payroll service providers to quickly report any data losses related to the W-2 scam currently making the rounds. If notified in time, the IRS can take steps to prevent employees from being victimized by identity thieves filing fraudulent returns in their names. There also is information about how to report receiving the scam email.

Report these schemes: Email

Tax professionals who experience a data breach also should quickly report the incident to the IRS. See details at Data Theft Information for Tax Professionals.

(For more info re the above: |

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