Yesterday morning I answered the phone and listened to an automated call supposedly from the IRS. A very badly done automated call. Needless, to say I hung up. I guess that some people are still responding to theses calls and the phishing emails or they would have stopped coming. So a reminder is necessary. The IRS does not, repeat does not, email or call taxpayers out of the blue with the promise of money or the threat of audits, liens or levies. These calls and emails are scammers so ignore them.
Then in the afternoon I received an email from Lisa Lake at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) promoting Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week on January 26-30, 2015. From her press release:
Identity theft is the largest complaint category at the FTC and, within that category; tax identity theft has emerged as the largest subcategory. IRS imposter scams and similar ruses are a new twist targeting taxpayers. As of August 2014, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) had received over 210,000 complaints with victims losing about $11 million to these scams. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC)’s Sentinel data also shows a significant spike with tens of thousands of these complaints in 2014.
IRS imposter schemes typically work like this:
- Someone calls or emails pretending to be from the IRS
- Scammers rig caller ID to make it look like IRS is calling (may have DC 202 area code)
- Scammers may know the last 4 digits of your SSN
- They may use fake IRS badge #s
- They ask people to wire money or put it on a money card
- Scammers may threaten arrest, deportation or loss of driver’s license
- Sometimes they make a follow-up call pretending to be from DMV or police, also rigging caller id
Your newspaper can help raise awareness about how consumers can protect themselves from tax ID theft and IRS imposter scams. The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Tax Identity Theft Week website (ftc.gov/taxidtheft) provides your readers with tools to do that. We also want to let consumers know how to file a complaint with the FTC; we hope you share the complaint link www.ftc.gov/complaint and the toll-free number 1-877-FTC-HELP with your readers, as well.
Also, there will be a free webinar hosted by the FTC on during Tax Identity Theft on January 27, 2015, at 2pm EST. Consumers can visit ftc.gov/taxidtheft to register and get more information.
Thank you, Lisa!