IRS Scam Precaution
From the Office of Director of Public Safety, Anna Ruzinski
The New Year brings a new focus on the preparing and filing of tax returns, and it can also lead to an increase in Internal Revenue Service (IRS) scams. Here are two scams that you should be aware of
IRS Impersonation Telephone Scams:
Victims are told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid immediately through pre-paid credit cards, gift cards or a wire transfer. Victims are threatened with arrest if they don’t follow the directions of the caller. This is often a recorded message, but may be a live person who may become hostile, insulting and ask for private information.
The IRS does not:
- Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit
- card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail you a bill if you owe any taxes.
- Threaten to bring in local police to have you arrested for not paying.
- Demand payment without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
- Ask for credit, debit card numbers or other personal information over the phone.
IRS Phishing Scams:
Emails or text messages that appear to be from a tax professional requesting personal information for an IRS form. These messages sometimes provide links to false websites intended to mirror the official IRS website and often include the language “you are to update your IRS e-file immediately.” Messages may carry malware that can infect your device and allow criminals to access your financial files.
How you can recognize Phishing emails:
Tip 1: Look but don’t click
- Hover your mouse over any links embedded in the body of the email. If the link address looks suspicious, don’t click on it. If you want to test the link, open a new window and type in website address directly rather than clicking on the link from unsolicited emails.
Tip 2: Check for spelling mistakes
- Legitimate messages usually do not have major spelling mistakes or poor grammar. Read your emails carefully and report anything that seems suspicious.
Tip 3: Analyze the salutation
- Is the email addressed to a vague “Valued Customer?” If so, watch out—legitimate businesses will often use a personal salutation with your first and last name.
Tip 4: Don’t give up personal information
- Legitimate banks and most other companies will never ask for personal credentials via email. Don’t give them up.
Tip 5: Review the signature
- Lack of details about the signer or how you can contact a company strongly suggests a phish. Legitimate businesses always provide contact details.