Taxes, everyone has to pay them…and this time of year is when we are all getting our W2’s and other tax documents in order and ready to file. Everyone has until April 17th to file and then we wait for our returns. It can be a stressful time for some, and unfortunately criminals are taking advantage of that. IRS and tax scams have been around since 2013. Since 2013, over 10,000 people have fallen victim to this scam and have paid a collective $54 million dollars because of the phone scams, according to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.
How do these scams work?
You will receive a phone call that is usually from a blocked or unsolicited number, or even sometimes set it up to appear to be from the IRS. The “IRS” agent on the phone will claim that you have an outstanding bill or owe back taxes, and they will demand payment immediately. To make this threat seem more real, they will threaten if payment is not received, to have local law enforcement ready to come to your job or house and arrest you. For payment, they might want money wired to them or even a prepaid debit or gift card, or even in some cases a Best Buy or iTunes card. These are just a few examples of what could happen. The criminals will often change the script or try to increase the level of intimidation to make you comply.
So here are some important things to remember regarding the IRS and these scams:
• If you do owe back taxes, the IRS will never call you and demand a specific method of payment. If they are going to contact you, it will be through mail.
• If they do call you, they will not accept payment with a Best Buy gift card.
• They will not demand payment without giving you the right and opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.
• The IRS will never call and threaten to bring in police or other law enforcement to have you arrested.
• Another common sign that it is a scam is that they will ask you for your personal information, such as your social security number, financial account or routing numbers, or debit card information.
What do I do if they call me?
There are several options. The first and easiest one – just hang up. You can call the IRS and simply ask if there is an investigation they have with you. IF they are threating to have you arrested, call your local police department and ask them about it. You can report the scam to the Federal Trade Commission. The website IRS.gov has a lot of valuable information regarding this scam and what to do.
We are here to help
At Gulf Coast Educators, we are here to help at any time if you feel that you might have been scammed. We can notate and put a password on your account to help secure it. If you want to contact the Credit Bureaus, we have the information that we can give to you to do so.
Being a trusted source of financial information, ensuring the privacy of your information, and identifying your needs and suggesting a solution that will improve your financial life are some of the service promises that we strive to do each day for our members. Whether that means helping you deal with potential fraud, or general day to day business, we will be here to assist you.