You may have heard recently about proposals in Congress to require the Treasury Department to contract with private collection agencies to collect amounts owed to the Internal Revenue Service. One concern arising is how the debt collectors will be able to identify themselves as legitimate. Whether or not the measure passes in some form or another, this discussion can serve as a reminder that we should be on the alert and protect our personal identity and our financial assets from thieves claiming to be an agent of the IRS.
Attempts to defraud come in various forms including e-mails, phone calls, letters, texts or other social media contacts, and can be very convincing with logos, addresses, and lingo as the scammer tries to stay one step ahead of detection. Don’t be misled by an imposter that wants you to believe that they are an agent of the IRS in order to get personal or financial information from you. Recent aggressive phone scams have used intimidation as a motivator to make their target turn over personal information to them. They can manipulate caller ID information, use fake names and IRS agent identifying information, and employ other increasingly sophisticated methods to lure you into their deception.
The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by phone or electronic means (including e-mails, texts or other social media) to request personal, tax, or financial data. You should not reply to, open attachments, or click on a link in any unsolicited e-mail that claims to come from the IRS. You can help to stop scams by forwarding any suspicious e-mail you receive to email@example.com. The IRS compiles such information to alert taxpayers about fraudulent schemes through news releases and on its website at http://www.irs.gov/uac/Tax-Scams-Consumer-Alerts.
Let us know if you have any concerns that you cannot resolve, especially if you receive a notice from the IRS. We can help you determine authenticity and advise if you should take any further action.
-Nancy B. Corley, EA