With tax season in full swing, it looks like it’s not just tax professionals who are keeping busy… Those professional scammers are bustling, too.
There are a few scams making the rounds these days. Here are a few to keep an eye out for:
1. Today, the Internal Revenue Service warned taxpayers to be on the lookout for a new email phishing scam. In the scam, the taxpayer receives an email which appears to be from the IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service and includes a bogus case number.
According to IRS, the fake emails may include the following message:
Your reported 2013 income is flagged for review due to a document processing error. Your case has been forwarded to the Taxpayer Advocate Service for resolution assistance. To avoid delays processing your 2013 filing contact the Taxpayer Advocate Service for resolution assistance.
The taxpayer is then instructed to click on links for more information or to “review reported income.” Those links are not legitimate and instead lead to web pages that allow the scammers to request personal information.
You should remember that the Taxpayer Advocate Service is legitimate and helps taxpayers resolve federal tax issues. However, the TAS, along with the rest of IRS, does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email, texting or social media.
2. Last week, the Treasury Inspector General for Taxpayer Administration (TIGTA) issued a warning to taxpayers to be on alert for a scam involving fraudulent calls from scammers posing as IRS representatives. J. Russell George, the Inspector General, called the scam “the largest scam of its kind that we have ever seen” and said that TIGTA has received more than 20,000 reports of bogus contacts with taxpayers paying over more than $1 million to the scammers.
In the scam, callers posing as IRS representatives contact taxpayers by phone, claiming that they owe money to the IRS. Taxpayers are told that they must pay the balance promptly using a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer or be subject to punishment, including arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license. Of course, it really isn’t the IRS calling. The IRS doesn’t generally initiate contact by phone, will not use abusive language or threaten arrest, will not ask for payment using a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer and will never ask for a credit card number over the phone.
3. Yet another scam started making the rounds this week, this one targeting non-resident aliens. In the scam, which is a variation on a scam reported over 10 years ago (downloads as a pdf), taxpayers receive an email with the subject “NEW YEAR-NON-RESIDENT ALIEN TAX EXEMPTION UPDATE” claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service.
The email advises that IRS records “indicate that you are a non-resident alien” – in the case of the email that had been forwarded to me, there was some truth to that statement, making the scam even scarier.
Talk to any CPA or reputable tax preparer to localize.
“The scammers are getting more daring,” warns Houston CPA and IRS expert Joe Mastriano. “Impersonating the IRS is a federal crime, but the crooks don’t care. If you send out enough emails and make enough phone calls, you’re going to find victims.”
Joe is a client who can talk about how these scams work and can introduce you to victims:
Joe Mastriano, CPA
CPA and IRS Problem specialist
Joe is also available for Skype interviews.
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