Every year the IRS and consumer advocates warn taxpayers to be wary of scammers calling and pretending to be from the IRS in order to gain access to personal information.
This year, fraudsters have a new tactic: They’re claiming that they have a taxpayer’s return and need to verify a few details — like a social security number or credit card information — in order to process it.
The scam has become so widespread that the IRS issued a press release Monday cautioning taxpayers to stay alert for this sort of call. “These schemes continue to adapt and evolve in an attempt to catch people off guard just as they are preparing their tax return,” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen Said in a statement. “Don’t be fooled.”
This year alone, the number of tax-related phishing schemes has increased by more than 400 percent. Other common scams include requests for the victim to send cash and the use of threats of arrest or deportation for not sending money.
It’s common for criminals to modify caller IDs to make it appear as if the phone call is coming from the IRS, and they may already have your name, address or other personal information. Remember, the IRS will never request information or demand immediate payment over the phone. The agency will always offer you an opportunity to appeal the amount they say you owe, and it never requires payment via a prepaid debit card.