A New Twist on an Old Con!
It seems like there is always a new approach out there that crooks are using to try to steal your hard-earned money. The IRS recently alerted tax professionals such as myself to be on the lookout for a new variation of a tax-related scam involving Social Security numbers. It is one you need to know about!
In this latest twist, in yet another attempt by crooks to scare people into returning robocall voice mails, scammers claim to be able to suspend or cancel the victim's Social Security number (SSN) if they don't call back and do as they are told. They may accuse the taxpayer of having overdue taxes in addition to threatening to cancel the person's SSN.
As the IRS strongly said in its alert, "make no mistake, it's a scam." Long story short, if you receive a call threatening to suspend your SSN for an unpaid tax bill, just hang up! You should NEVER give out sensitive information over the phone (or by email for that matter) unless you are absolutely certain the call is legit. The fact that they called in the first place is a pretty sure sign it likely is not.
The IRS went on to say that it will never take the following actions:
- Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, iTunes gift card or wire transfer. The IRS does not use these methods for tax payments.
- Ask a taxpayer to make a payment to a person or organization other than the U.S. Treasury.
- Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have the taxpayer arrested for not paying.
- Demand taxes be paid without giving the taxpayer the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed
- Something important to note here, the IRS in some cases is now required to turn collection activity over to certain authorized private collection agencies. These private companies must follow the same rules that the IRS follows. Therefore, they will never do any of the above either.
Further, the IRS said if you get one of these calls, you do not owe tax and have no reason to think you owe tax, you should:
- Report the call to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.
- Report the caller ID and callback number to the IRS by sending it to email@example.com. The taxpayer should write "IRS Phone Scam" in the subject line.
- Report the call to the Federal Trade Commission. When reporting it, they should add "IRS Phone Scam" in the notes.
- Taxpayers who owe tax or think they do should:
- View tax account information online at IRS.gov to see the actual amount owed and review their payment options.
- Call the number on the billing notice.
- Call the IRS at 800-829-1040.
The important thing to do is not panic and know that you have taxpayer rights, and that there are safeguards in place that prevent the IRS from taking such aggressive action. Stay calm, do NOT respond to such calls, and then report them to the authorities.