The IRS has issued a warning related to tax scams they expect to gear up over the next two weeks.
In the phone scam, bad guys pretend to be IRS employees and call victims, demanding immediate payment of a so-called tax debt. Payments are often requested via prepaid debit cards and/or money wires. The so called IRS employee will keep the victim on the line or repeatedly call back until the money is received.
In some reported cases, the caller threatens to call the police, Immigration or other federal law enforcement agencies if they don’t receive immediate payment. The call may appear to come from emergency services and/or a local/federal law enforcement agency but the fraudsters are “spoofing” the caller ID so that it appears to come from a legitimate agency.
If this happens to you, just hang up. The IRS would never call to threaten or demand immediate tax payment. You (as a taxpayer) would be given multiple opportunities to appeal and be offered a number of ways to resolve the liability.
In the email scam, criminals send an email to your personal or business account(s) appearing to be from the IRS. The email usually features the IRS logo, uses agency language and asks taxpayers to provide sensitive information. It may also ask recipients to open an attachment or click on a link embedded within the email to supposedly give the taxpayer account access. In a more recent variation called “spear phishing,” the criminal, having done research on the victim ahead of time, will send an email posing as a trusted source. The email will make an urgent plea to click on a link and update an account immediately. The link will then direct the victim to what seems to be a trusted website but is in reality a phishing website controlled by the thief who can install malicious software.
Bottom line on emails, the IRS never emails you.
Don’t give out personal information. Don’t open attachments from people you don’t know and trust.