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Watch for these summertime scams

Posted on July 9, 2017

Every couple of months the IRS issues updated warnings about the newest tax-related scams being reported across the U.S. Although tax filing season has ended for most taxpayers, emerging tax-related schemes continue to claim victims.

According to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, “Many (schemes) involve fictitious tax bills and demands for payment by purchasing and transferring information involving a gift card or iTunes card.”

At Teipen Selanders Poynter & Ayres, we want you to avoid being sucked into any and all financial and tax-related scams. Many are very elaborate and convincing. Here are some of the latest schemes to avoid:

  • EFTPS scam

Con artists know that the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS) is now one of the most-used ways to pay taxes. But despite the fact that the tax transfer of funds is made via a secure online account, con artists will call an unsuspecting taxpayer and say the payment was not received. The caller claims to be from the IRS and says that two certified letters mailed to the taxpayer were returned as undeliverable. The scammer then threatens arrest if a payment is not made immediately by a specific prepaid debit card linked to the EFTPS when, in reality, it is controlled entirely by the scammer. Don’t fall for this. Call your CPA. We can confirm that your funds were properly received by the IRS.

  • “Robo-call” messages

 In this phone scam, a caller will tell their victim that if they do not call back, a warrant will be issued for their arrest. Those who do respond are told they must make immediate payment either by a specific prepaid debit card or by wire transfer. Smart taxpayers know that the IRS will never call and leave a prerecorded urgent message asking for a call back. Ignore the call or report it to the IRS.

  • Private debt collection scams

Taxpayers should be on the lookout for scammers posing as private collection firms. Although it is true that the IRS recently began sending letters to a relatively small group of taxpayers whose long-overdue federal tax accounts are being assigned to a private collection agency, IRS-authorized firms will only be calling about a tax debt the person has had – and has been aware of – for years. The IRS will have previously contacted taxpayers several times about their tax debt. If you are not sure about the collection firm contacting you, never agree to pay over the phone. Contact your CPA or the IRS to determine if the firm you spoke to is legitimate.

  •  If English is your second language, be wary of “IRS” calls

Taxpayers with limited English proficiency have been recent targets of phone scams and email phishing schemes. Con artists often approach victims in their native language, threaten them with deportation, police arrest and/or license revocation. They tell victims they owe the IRS money and must pay it promptly through a preloaded debit card, gift card or wire transfer. They may also leave “urgent” callback requests or via a phishing email. Again, don’t fall for this. Contact your CPA or the IRS.

 How to know you are being scammed:

 According to the IRS (and its authorized private collection agencies), it will never:

    Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method. The IRS will always mail a bill or inquiry to any taxpayer who owes taxes. Checks will never be requested payable through third parties.

    Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have the taxpayer arrested for not paying.

    Demand that taxes be paid without giving the taxpayer the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.

    Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

 What to do if you are scammed:

    Do not give out any information. Hang up immediately.

    Contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration to report the call. Use their IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting web page. Alternatively, call 800-366-4484.

    Report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the FTC Complaint Assistant on FTC.gov. Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.

The CPAs at TSPA want you to protect yourself and any senior members of your household that may be more easily conned. Let them know that the IRS does not use email, text messages or social media to discuss personal tax issues, such as those involving bills or refunds.

For more information, visit the “Tax Scams and Consumer Alerts” page on IRS.gov, or give us a call and ask for help, especially if you think you may actually owe back taxes and aren’t sure how to begin the process of remittance safely and securely. We are here to help.

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