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IRS Phone Scam 2014 Threatens Tax Payers: What You Need To Know About The $1 Million Nationwide Scam And How To Protect Yourself

By iDigital Times Reporter on March 21, 2014 1:43 PM EDT 0

A new IRS tax fraud phone scheme has targeted over 20,000 American taxpayers, stealing over $1 million. Find out how to recognize and protect yourself from the scam. (Photo: Reuters)
A new IRS tax fraud phone scheme has targeted over 20,000 American taxpayers, stealing over $1 million. Find out how to recognize and protect yourself from the scam. (Photo: Reuters)

The 2014 Tax Season has come and so has one of the largest IRS tax fraud phone scams the Internal Revenue Service has ever seen. According to the agency's inspector general, this new IRS tax fraud phone scheme has made over 20,000 American taxpayers the target of it's scam. The scam has been so widespread so far more than $1 million has been lost on the part of unsuspecting victims.

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So how does the IRS Tax fraud phone scam work? Basically, victims will receive a fake IRS call that claims they owe taxes, and demands payment using a prepaid debit card or a wire transfer. According to J. Russell George, Treasury inspector general for the tax administration, if the victim refuses to pay, the call turns forceful as the unsuspecting tax payer will be threatened with arrest, deportation or loss of a business or driver's license. This, however, is not how a real IRS agent would handle contacting a tax payer who owed money, says George. Instead, the tax payer is generally contacted by mail first. Second, a true IRS employee would not demand payment by debit card, credit card or wire transfer.

WATCH: IRS Says $1 Million Phone Scam Is Largest Ever

It seems this scam has been around for several month with the main target of the IRS tax fraud phone scam being immigrant, but now the scam has spread much further into the general population. It's not unusual for scams such as this new IRS Tax Fraud phone scam to pick up speed during the filing season, but this scam has been particularly large, and has targeted all of the 50 states.

"This is the largest scam of its kind that we have ever seen," George said in a statement. "The increasing number of people receiving these unsolicited calls from individuals who fraudulently claim to represent the IRS is alarming.

While work is being done currently to track the location of where the calls are originating, there are some clues currently that point to old phishing scams s the script for the fake IRS tax fraud phone call is very similar to scripts from past schemes. Part of what has made the scam so affective is the fact that the scammers have masked their call, making it appear on a caller ID as though the IRS was in fact the entity calling. Even more alarming, in some cases, the scammers even knew the last four digits of the victims social security number or send a fake email as a follow-up scare.

A key indicator that the caller or letter sender is a scam artist and not an authentic IRS employee is the fact that they request prepaid debit cards or wired money. This method is chosen, often because of the difficulty in tracing thee kinds of funds. No bank account is needed to accept the funds and therefore some of the tracks are covered.

"If someone unexpectedly calls claiming to be from the IRS and uses threatening language if you don't pay immediately, that is a sign that it really isn't the IRS calling," George added

The IRS has grown familiar to common schemes like this latest IRS Tax fraud phone scam, and as such, has created a web page dedicated to helping possible victims identify fake contacts. The page even includes a number of PDF samples with fraudulent IRS letters and faxes. Below is a list of helpful tips on what taxpayers should do if they receive a questionable contact from someone claiming to work with the IRS, while urging taxpayers to report any phishing or phone scams they run across.

From Official IRS website:

The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. This includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels.

What is phishing?

Phishing is a scam typically carried out by unsolicited email and/or websites that pose as legitimate sites and lure unsuspecting victims to provide personal and financial information.

All unsolicited email claiming to be from either the IRS or any other IRS-related components such as the Office of Professional Responsibility or EFTPS, should be reported to phishing@irs.gov.

However, if you have experienced monetary losses due to an IRS-related incident please file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission through their Complaint Assistant to make that information available to investigators.

What to do if you receive a suspicious IRS-related communication

If Then
You receive an email claiming to be from the IRS that contains a request for personal information ... 1. Do not reply.2. Do not open any attachments. Attachments may contain malicious code that will infect your computer.3. Do not click on any links.
If you clicked on links in a suspicious email or phishing website and entered confidential information, visit our identity protection page.4. Forward the email as-is, to us at phishing@irs.gov.

5. After you forward the email and/or header information to us, delete the original emailmessage you received.

Note:
Please forward the full original email to us atphishing@irs.gov. Do not forward scanned images of printed emails as that strips the email of valuable information only available in the electronic copy.

You discover a website on the Internet that claims to be the IRS but you suspect it is bogus ... ... send the URL of the suspicious site tophishing@irs.gov. Please add in the subject line of the email, 'Suspicious website'.
You receive a phone call or paper letter via mail from an individualclaiming to be the IRS but you suspect they are not an IRS employee ... Phone call:1. Ask for a call back number and employee badge number.2. Contact the IRS to determine if the caller is an IRS employee with a legitimate need to contact you.3. If you determine the person calling you is an IRS employee with a legitimate need to contact you, call them back.

Letter or notice via paper mail:

1. Contact the IRS to determine if the mail is a legitimate IRS letter.

2. If it is a legitimate IRS letter, reply if needed.

If caller or party that sent the paper letter is not legitimate, contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1.800.366.4484.

You receive an unsolicited e-mail or fax, involving a stock or sharepurchase  ... ... and you are a U.S. citizen located in the United States or its territories or a U.S. citizen living abroad.1. Complete the appropriate complaint form with theU.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.2. Forward email to phishing@irs.gov.
Please add in the subject line of the email, 'Stock'.3. If you are a victim of monetary or identity theft, you may submit a complaint through the FTC Complaint Assistant.

... and you are not a U.S. citizen and reside outside the United States.

1. Complete the appropriate complaint form with theU.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

2. Contact your securities regulator and file a complaint.

3. Forward email to phishing@irs.gov.
Please add in the subject line of the e-mail, 'Stock'.

4. If you are a victim of monetary or identity theft, you may report your complaint to econsumer.gov.

You receive an unsolicited fax (such as Form W8-BEN) claiming to be from the IRS, requesting personal information ... Contact the IRS to determine if the fax is from the IRS.
  •  If you learn the fax is not from the IRS, please send us the information via email atphishing@irs.gov. In the subject line of the email, please type the word 'FAX'.
You receive a text message or Short Message Service (SMS) message claiming to be from the IRS ... 1. Do not reply.2. Do not open any attachments. Attachments may contain malicious code that will infect your computer or mobile phone.3. Do not click on any links. If you clicked on links in a suspicious SMS and entered confidential information, visit our identity protection page.4. Forward the text as-is, to us at 202-552-1226. Note:Standard text messaging rates apply.

5. If possible, in a separate text, forward the originating number to us at 202-552-1226

6. After you forward the text, please delete the original text.

You have a tax-related question ...Note: Do not submit tax-related questions to phishing@irs.gov. If you have a tax-related question, unrelated to phishing or identity theft, please contact the IRS.

 

How to identify phishing email scams claiming to be from the IRS and bogus IRS websites


The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. This includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels.

The IRS does not ...

... request detailed personal information through email.
... send any communication requesting your PIN numbers, passwords or similar access information for credit cards, banks or other financial accounts.


What to do if you receive a suspicious email message that does not claim to be from the IRS

 If  Then
You receive a suspicious phishing email not claiming to be from the IRS ... Forward the email as-is toreportphishing@antiphishing.org.
You receive an email you suspect contains malicious code or a malicious attachment and you HAVE clicked on the link or downloaded the attachment ... Visit OnGuardOnline.gov to learn what to do if you suspect you have malware on your computer.
You receive an email you suspect contains malicious code or a malicious attachment and you HAVE NOT clicked on the link or downloaded the attachment ... Forward the email to your Internet Service Provider's abuse department and/or tospam@uce.gov.

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