Identity theft and tax scams have dramatically increased over the past several years. It seems as if every day a scam artist comes up with a new scheme to trick an innocent person out of money. These scammers are smart – they know what strikes fear in most of the American population.
Scam artists most often pretend to be from the Internal Revenue Service or a state revenue department and use threats to intimidate a person into paying a tax bill. They can become quite aggressive, even threatening arrest or deportation. Some of the more recent and creative tactics seen over the past year include the following:
- Demanding immediate tax payment for taxes owed on an iTunes gift card
- Soliciting W-2 information from payroll and human resources professionals
- “Verifying” tax return information over the phone
As these scams have been around for some time, most adults have become wise to the ways of this new world and do not fall prey to these tactics. So the scammers have moved on to new victims – our children.
The IRS recently issued a warning to taxpayers about a new tax scam. Phone calls from IRS impersonators are being made to students demanding payment for the “Federal Student Tax.” Obviously, this tax does not exist. The scammers try to convince the students to wire money to them immediately and threaten to report the students to the police if they don’t act quickly enough. This new scam makes it imperative that we educate our children on these tactics.
There are five facts about the IRS that you can share with your children – especially those heading off to college in the fall – that can help them identify a tax scam. They are as follows:
- The IRS will never call to demand immediate payment over the phone.
- The IRS will never threaten to have you arrested for not paying.
- The IRS will never demand payment without giving you the opportunity to appeal the amount owed.
- The IRS will never require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
- The IRS will never ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
It is important that all taxpayers be on alert for these types of calls. The best course of action is to hang up immediately and NEVER give out any personal information.