Income tax fraud schemes seem to be a daily occurrence in 2015. As a firm, we have seen a substantial increase in the number of client calls advising us of individuals calling them, posing as an IRS agent and demanding payment. Some even go as far as threatening their intended victim with foreclosure and arrest as a result of unpaid income taxes.
Earlier this year, I received a voicemail message notifying me that a “lawsuit” was going to be filed against me as a result of unpaid federal income taxes. (I have no unpaid income taxes.) I immediately called the number back to gather some “intelligence,” but the phone number just rang. Later, upon feverishly trying to call them back, I was notified that the number was no longer in service. Many of the calls that people are receiving are from a 202 area code. I notified my local police department, which informed me that they have received many similar calls. It’s a fraud epidemic!
Why the new tactic? Prerecorded telephone calls are cheap. Criminals have resorted to the same annoying, cost-effective telephone marketing campaigns commonly used by individuals campaigning for public office. The IRS will not call to advise you of an income tax delinquency, impending foreclosure, imminent filing of a lawsuit or arrest. They won’t immediately demand a wire transfer payment using Western Union!
The fraudster’s goal is to deceive you into believing that the IRS is communicating with you whether it is by telephone, email or even text. Sometimes they can be quite convincing.
After attempting to establish credibility and gain your trust by using publicly available information and careless social media disclosures, fraudsters will ask you to provide them with your Social Security number, other personal information and/or demand that money be wire transferred to them. In an attempt to deceive you, they may go so far as to provide you with your last four digits of your Social Security number and even attempt to tell you where you work or your home address. Don’t be fooled! It’s a scam!
They are asking you for your Social Security number to “verify your identity” when, in fact, they are attempting to steal your identity – and in some instances your cash. They might have your last four numbers of your Social Security number, but they don’t have the first five!
Stop. Why would the IRS call you and ask you your Social Security number? You should ask them for it to verify who they are before you will continue talking to them. After all, they called you. Even if they know it (say as a result of the recent Anthem data breach), you should still hang up. Ask them to send what they are communicating to you in writing.
The IRS will not call, especially at home in the evening. They don’t communicate via email or text. They don’t threaten you with arrest, foreclosing on your house or demand immediate payment for an outstanding debt. The police are not coming to your house. You will not be arrested at work.
The IRS still communicates the old-fashioned way – standard US mail.
For more information on any income tax matter, or questions about identity theft, contact Frank Suponcic at 440-449-6800 or firstname.lastname@example.org.