While it may be the summer season, scammers in the U.S. have not been on vacation. They have been on a rampage, posing as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) so as to defraud unsuspecting taxpayers. Being the correspondence season, the IRS is sending out bills and notices to taxpayers, including on cryptocurrency reporting. However, unknown to some taxpayers, some of the letters and phone calls they receive aren’t from the tax agency.
The scammers have imitated the IRS process which begins with the sending of a letter, a report by Forbes reveals. In some version of the letter, the scammers threaten the taxpayer with an IRS lien or levy based on taxes owed to an agency called the Bureau of Tax Enforcement. However, there exists no such agency.
In other cases, the letters have contained legitimate facts about the taxpayer’s debts. This spooks the taxpayer and leads him to comply under the belief that it must be the IRS. However, taxpayers should know that some tax-related information such as liens that have been filed against them is publicly available.
The solution isn’t ignoring the letters, Irma Trevino, an IRS officer, recently advised. Speaking to KGBT-TV, she stated, “When IRS sends a correspondence, it’s an official envelope and that letter has the name of the representative, the identification number and a phone number. So please do not ignore the correspondence, open the letter, call the number and verify it is the IRS that is trying to contact you.”
The IRS warned about these scams in June, urging taxpayers “to be on the lookout for a spring surge of evolving phishing emails and telephone scams.” The agency listed some of the telltale signs that could help taxpayers to recognize the scammers. They include calls to immediate payment through gift cards, wire transfer or prepaid debit card. The IRS doesn’t use such payment methods.
Other signs include the threat of bringing in local police to make arrests and requests for credit card information.
As for the IRS letters, they always arrive in a government envelope with the IRS seal on them. They must also include a notice or letter number at the top as well as your truncated tax ID. A genuine letter must also include additional information about your rights as a taxpayer, such as your appeal rights.
Trevino also advised taxpayers to always confirm any information they receive with the IRS website. She stated, “It’s so easy, you check your tax account so there is your history, so if the IRS has an outstanding tax liability, it’s going to show over there.”
Scammers should be reported to the IRS at 1-800-829-1040.
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