In October 2013, the IRS issued taxpayers a warning about a pervasive telephone scam designed to solicit payments and release of personal information from individuals. The IRS issued a second warning concerning the scam near the end of the 2014 filing season, but the calls have continued into the 2015 filing season with no end in sight.
Scammers have largely targeted elderly persons and recent immigrants. Victims receive calls from people impersonating IRS employees, often complete with false badge numbers and fictitious common names. Some callers are able to mimic the IRS toll-free number on the victims’ caller identification systems and send corroborating e-mails from phony IRS e-mail accounts. The callers generally have very limited information about their victims, though some are able to recite the last four digits of their victims’ Social Security numbers. Callers claim that the call recipients owe the IRS fees or back taxes. Many then try to arrange payments with prepaid debit cards or wire transfers while also soliciting further identifying information from their victims. Callers often threaten arrest, and those targeting recent immigrants may threaten deportation.
Elderly persons from both Florida and Ohio have recently alerted BakerHostetler attorneys about suspicious voice mail messages from callers impersonating IRS employees seeking payment for back taxes. If you receive a suspicious call or voice mail from a person claiming to be associated with the IRS, it is very important that you not provide any personal information to the caller. You can take the phone number and/or refer the person to your accountant or attorney for follow-up. Any legitimate communication from the IRS will be made in writing.
If you have no reason to believe you owe taxes and you receive a suspicious call or e-mail from an alleged IRS employee, you can report the incident to the Treasury inspector general for tax administration online or by phone at 1-800-366-4484. Scams involving government imposters may also be reported online through the FTC Complaint Assistant.