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March 1, 2023 | Article | 5 min Personal insights

How Do Tax Scams Work?

Con artists make unsolicited calls claiming to be IRS officials, demanding the victim pay a bogus tax bill. They convince the victim to send cash, usually through a wire transfer, prepaid debit card, or gift card. They may also leave “urgent” callback requests through phone “robo-calls” or send a phishing email.

What Else Do I Need to Know?

Many phone scams use threats to intimidate and bully a victim into paying. They may even threaten to arrest, deport or revoke the driver’s license of their victim if they don’t get the money.

Scammers often alter caller ID numbers to make it look like the IRS or another agency is calling. The callers use IRS employee titles and fake badge numbers to appear legitimate. They may use the victim’s name, address, and other personal information to make the call sound official.

The IRS Will Never:

  • Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card, or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first maila bill to any taxpayer who owes taxes.
  • Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have the taxpayer arrested for not paying
  • Demand taxes be paid without giving taxpayers the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
  • Call you about an unexpected refund.

How Do I Avoid This Scam?

Hang up the phone or delete the email if you ever get a call or email claiming you will be arrested due to a tax debt. Do not call the number provided in the phone message or email you receive. If you're concerned that the phone call may be legitimate, hang up and call the IRS at 800-366-4484 to verify.

File Your Tax Returns Early

File your taxes promptly. While thieves may use stolen information to create fraudulent bank accounts, they may also use it to file fraudulent tax returns. File your taxes as soon as you have the tax information you need and respond promptly to letters sent to you by the IRS.

If you have any further questions or feel that you have been a victim of one of these scams, contact our team at Premier Valley Bank, a division of HTLF Bank.