As the tax season nears, your year could end in stress and sleepless nights if you fall victim to the identity theft scam that’s on the rise. Scammers are misusing the authority in the Internal Revenue Service name to scam people into giving up their personal information.
The scam begins with a phone call from someone who claims represent an official agency like the IRS, the U.S. Treasury, or the Police Department. This person may sound official and even identify him/herself with a pretentious “badge number.” The reason for the call varies, but the caller almost always demands payment for unpaid taxes, while threatening arrest if the consumer doesn’t pay immediately.
Callers then instruct victims to purchase a reloadable debit card, load it with cash, and call back to give scammers the reloadable debit card number.
This scam has been reported so often that a joint press conference to warn consumers was held with the district U.S. attorney, U.S. Treasury Inspector General’s office, and Better Business Bureau. This press conference comes after two individuals from Florida were hit with fraud-related charges.
The first step to preventing fraud is to arm yourself and your loved ones with knowledge. The IRS will never call you if you owe back taxes. The IRS will mail a letter if there is a problem with your taxes. If you detect fraud from caller, perform the following steps:
- Hang up.
- Report the incident to www.treasury.gov/tigta or call TIGTA at 800-366-4484.
- Share this knowledge among your friends and family so that they can protect themselves too.