IRS Warns of Back-to-School ScamsSusan Letizia
As kids head back to school following their summer break, the IRS has begun issuing warnings to parents to watch out for particular tax scam.
The scam works like this: Telephone scammers will target parents of students heading back to school whereby they will demand payments for non-existent taxes. Many of them refer to this as the “Federal Student Tax.”
The scammers actually impersonate the IRS. They will call students and demand that they wire the money immediately to pay for the fake federal tax. If the victim of the scam fails to comply, the scammers usually become aggressive and threatening, sometimes even telling the victims they’ll be arrested if they don’t pay up.
As schools everywhere begin to re-open, it’s important for all taxpayers to be aware of this awful tax scam.
Here are some tips to help you remain vigilant and protect yourself from becoming a tax scam victim.
Altering Caller ID: These scam artists are crafty and have begun to spoof their phone numbers so that it appears as though the phone calls are coming from within an IRS building, the local police department, or a private debt collection agency working with the IRS.
Imitating Software Providers: In some cases, the scammers will pose as legitimate software providers, which tricks the victim into handing over their hard-earned money.
Fake Payments Using Gift Cards: The scammers will typically demand payment for the fake federal student tax using popular gift cards. iTunes cards tend to be a favorite among these scam artists.
Pretend to be Tax Professionals: These tax scam artists will usually pretend to be a tax preparation expert. They’ll call and attempt to solicit your W-2 information, or they attempt to “verify” your tax information over the phone. The IRS would never do this.
How to Tell the IRS from Various Tax Scams
The IRS typically sends letters when they want payment for back taxes or when you are facing an audit, for example. The IRS will not call to demand payment, and certainly won’t use aggressive and threatening means to collect. The IRS won’t use iTunes gift cards to collect payment, and the agency also won’t threaten you with jail.
How to React to Scams
If you receive a phone call that claims to be from the IRS or another tax professional and you become suspicious, immediately hang up the phone. If the individual calling you left a message, search the web for the phone number. Many times, other people list these numbers online as coming from common scam artists. These listings can help you stay protected while keeping your personal information safe.
If you suspect that you have fallen for a tax scam or you have been called by a tax scam artist, you can report the incident to the Federal Trade Commission by visiting FTC.gov and using the FTC Complaint Assistant. Make sure you include the note “IRS Telephone Scam” when prompted.
Do You Owe Back Taxes?
If you do owe taxes to the IRS or you face another tax issue with the IRS, SCL Tax Services can help. We are located in the Bronx, New York, but help clients in and near Eastechester, Westchester, Mount Vernon and Yonkers. Call today to schedule a free 15-minute consultation and get the tax resolution services you need to get back in the IRS’s good graces.
You can also keep in mind that if you get a suspicious phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money, here’s what you should do:
- Do not give out any information. Hang up immediately.
- Search the web for telephone numbers scammers leave in your voicemail asking you to call back. Some of the phone numbers may be published online and linked to criminal activity.
- Contact TIGTA to report the call. Use their “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” web page or call 800-366-4484.
- Report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on FTC.gov. Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.
- If you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS directly at 800-829-1040.