Let’s face it. We have enough issues with the real IRS and other government agencies. No one wants or needs a scammer trying to phish for your vital information or steal your identity. Yet you are susceptible to IRS scams if you owe the IRS money. Equally bad is when you think you’re paying a debt you owe to a government agency. Only to discover you’ve just lined the pockets of some conman half a world away. To add insult to injury: that tax debt is still there. Yes, it’s still waiting to be paid, even though you’ve already been left with a hole in your pocket. And not to mention your dignity. Call business & Financial Solutions. We practice (and preach) a policy of caution and vigilance. Commonsense and healthy skepticism are important, but they only go so far in preventing IRS scams.
To avoid being the victim of scammers, there are a few essential facts you’ll want to know:
One thing is clear, as described by IRS Special Agent Kurt Bertram in a recent article from ksat.com, “The IRS will never call you out of the blue and demand immediate payment… we will not ask you for a credit card, a money order, or a reloadable debit card over the phone. It’s not going to happen.” In fact, the “Dirty Dozen” tax scams for 2015 had a special emphasis on “aggressive threatening phone calls”. Right now, in Texas, one of the most successful scams involves aggressive phone calls.
If you receive a suspicious email that requests your personal information, report it to the IRS. Phishing is a serious and widespread scam. It presents an appearance of legitimacy while soliciting private information and credentials. Don’t give out your personal information unless you’re sure. The IRS will not send you an email regarding a bill without prior correspondence.
The scams may be numerous in variety, but one factor that many have in common is preying upon potential victims’ fears. As the 20th century author H.P. Lovecraft once wrote, “Fear is the oldest and strongest emotion of mankind…” It’s well known by psychologists that there’s no motivator more powerful than fear. Recent studies bear this fact out further. Confidence men are aware of this fact of human psychology and exploit it for their gain.
Fear causes us to react too quickly and without careful thought. The reason for this is that fear taps directly into our limbic system, effectively bypassing our brain’s frontal lobe (the part that likes to think things out carefully) If you don’t have forethought, you don’t do your research first. Google remains your friend (and the enemy of the scammer on the phone demanding payment first and questions later), and you should do your research beforehand, any time you’re not completely certain that you’re actually corresponding with a legitimate government agency.
Though many are never brought to justice, the cathartic news is that the fate of IRS scammers is often not good. Find out if you actually have a tax debt. If you owe the IRS money, call 1-800-829-1040. Though we’ve mentioned some of the more common recent scams, this overview is far from comprehensive. And sadly there are even more scams and cons out there. They range from fake charities to abusive tax shelters. Be prepared. Be mindful. Moreover, work with a trusted professional as you prepare and manage your tax situation. Your tax professional can help you navigate through the issues associated with the debt if you owe the IRS.