The Internal Revenue Service recently issued a new warning to tax professionals and taxpayers. In a new twist on an old trick, the fraudster threatens to cancel or suspend the victim’s Social Security Number (SSN) if they do not pay their overdue tax bill. Initial contact is made via robocalls, then the victim calls the scammer or stays on the line. This is also known as “phishing.”
It is important to note that the IRS would never threaten to cancel a person’s SSN. If citizens receive such a call, they should immediately hang up. Moreover, a person should never provide sensitive financial or personal information unless they are sure that they are talking to an actual representative of the IRS – it is important to note that the agency now uses collection agencies to help collect on debts.
Requests the caller should not make
Regardless of how convincing the caller sounds, there are requests they should not ask:
- Demanding immediate payment
- Specifying a payment method like a prepaid card, a gift card or wire transfers (the IRS does not accept these)
- Specifying payment to an entity other than the U.S. Treasury
- Threatening to notify law enforcement immediately
- Not allowing the potential victim an opportunity to appeal their case or ask questions
Along with hanging up the phone, the taxpayer can also report the call to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. Ideally, the taxpayer should provide the scammer’s callback number and caller ID. They can send this information to [email protected] with the subject heading of IRS phone scam. They can also call the Federal Trade Commission.
Addressing unpaid tax bills
Taxpayers can view their tax information online to determine how much they owe as well as their payment history over the last 24 months. They can then consider payment options. If those numbers do not look right, the taxpayer has the opportunity to appeal the amount due, penalties or pending actions.