Article written by:
Scott Eichar, CPA, CFP
Senior Manager, Tax & Business Advisory Services
As we near the end of the 2016 tax filing season, we’ve continued to see an increase in fraudulent calls and emails by individuals posing as the IRS or United States Treasury officials.
IRS Impersonation Scams
IRS impersonation scams have been on the rise for a while now. These can take the form of a phone call where someone is claiming to represent the IRS or the United States Treasury, or it could be a suspicious email claiming that you owe the IRS.
As a general rule, the IRS will never email or call taxpayers without contacting them by mail first. If you are being contacted via phone or email by someone claiming that you either owe money or are due a refund, you may be a target of one of these scams.
What should I do if I receive a suspicious phone call or email?
- Request the employee’s name, badge number and call back number.
- Do not provide any personal or financial information to the individual. The IRS will never request financial account numbers, passwords or other sensitive info.
- Do not initiate any payments to the IRS via wire transfers, MoneyGram, Western Union, etc.
- Contact your professional tax advisor for guidance on next steps to ensure your identity is protected as well as for assistance reporting the incident to the IRS.
If you receive a “phishing” or other suspicious email, do not reply or open any attachments. You should also immediately forward the email to email@example.com and then delete the original email.
IRS Use of Private Collection Agencies
Lastly, keep in mind that the IRS recently started using private debt collectors for past due taxes owed; however, the IRS will always send a letter to the taxpayer and contact them first. They will also send a letter letting the taxpayer know that their account is being assigned to a collection agency.
As a general rule, you should always forward any correspondence from a taxing authority to your tax advisor so that they can determine the legitimacy of the inquiry and next steps. If you have fallen victim to one of these scams recently or it in the future, please consult with a GBQ tax professional.