A letter or phone call from the Internal Revenue Service is one thing that brings an immediate blood-pressure jolt to almost any business owner or individual in Texas. Though IRS issues such as audits or collection activities are very serious matters, it is important to ensure you are actually dealing with the IRS before you take any action. For years, scammers have used the perceived power of the IRS against individuals and business owners.
Identity thieves and others use many variations on the IRS scam, but they often center around someone claiming to be from the IRS. The so-called IRS agent threatens people with collection activities, business closure, deportation or even arrest. Some even threaten things such as revocation of drivers’ licenses or turning off utility services to homes or buildings.
Ultimately, what the scammer wants is money. The scammer threatens individuals until they agree to make a payment toward taxes owed — usually, that payment is requested by the scammer in the form of a prepaid debit card or a wire transfer, as those are harder to trace. In some cases, however, scammers may ask for bank account or credit card information.
Though these scams can be scary — especially in the first few moments on the phone — they are easy to identify and avoid. The IRS doesn’t use these type of collection tactics to contact taxpayers about taxes owed. You’re more likely to receive an official letter via USPS than a phone call. Even if an IRS agent does make a phone call, the IRS does not settle tax debt via measures such as wire transfers or prepaid debit cards.
By taking some common-sense steps, businesses and individuals can avoid being entrapped by IRS scams. Anyone who is unsure about the legitimacy of an IRS message or correspondence should ask for assistance before responding with any personal or financial information.
Source: Albuquerque Journal, “IRS tax scam a familiar oldie that keeps spreading” Nick Pappas, Jul. 20, 2014