Beware of Threats!

Knew a guy, call him Bill, who received a call from the IRS Criminal Division stating that Bill had to call him back to pay back taxes immediately, or a warrant would be put out on him! He was extremely concerned, knew of absolutely no past tax problems, so he called me. I offered to call the IRS gentleman to see what was going on, plus to make sure Bill did not say something to the IRS that should not have been said!

When I called the IRS agent with the number given, the phone was out of service with the telephone service recording of a young lady telling me that:”The number you have dialed is no longer….” Interesting that an IRS would have given a number that did not work, so I verified the number, but it was the one Bill had written down. I searched the web for the phone number. I did not have to search very far.

It seems the “IRS Agent” had done this a number of times. He tells you that this is your last chance before a warrant is issued and you need to pay him $1000 now to get it stopped!! Also seems that the “IRS Agent” is sometimes an “Immigration Service Supervisor” who has to deport you unless you give him your credit card number so he can charge you $500 to update your green card to stay in the US! He was also a “Bailiff” who wanted to keep you out of jail if you could just pay him $xxx, etc., etc.

The IRS always communicates by letter and on official letterhead. They never start an audit or exam by calling you (have you ever called the IRS!! You will be on hold for a half hour- on a good day- so do you think they will call you?). After the process is in-play, phone and emails might be used but only after you know who the IRS Agent is. Even with phone calls or emails, important points are still followed up with a written copy.

Finally, you would NEVER pay an IRS Agent or an IRS representative that called or audited you. If you owe money, it is paid by check that you mail, by EFTPS, or by giving information to a representative at the IRS that YOU called, not one that called you.

Below is a copy of a newsletter put out by the IRS concerning scams.


IRS Warns of Tax-time Scams

It’s true: tax scams proliferate during the income tax filing season. This year’s season opens on Jan. 31. The IRS provides the following scam warnings so you can protect yourself and avoid becoming a victim of these crimes:
• Be vigilant of any unexpected communication purportedly from the IRS at the start of tax season.
• Don’t fall for phone and phishing email scams that use the IRS as a lure. Thieves often pose as the IRS using a bogus refund scheme or warnings to pay past-due taxes.
• The IRS doesn’t initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. This includes any type of e-communication, such as text messages and social media channels.
• The IRS doesn’t ask for PINs, passwords or similar confidential information for credit card, bank or other accounts.
• If you get an unexpected email, don’t open any attachments or click on any links contained in the message. Instead, forward the email to phishing@irs.gov. For more about how to report phishing scams involving the IRS visit the genuine IRS website, IRS.gov.

Here are several steps you can take to help protect yourself against scams and identity theft:
• Don’t carry your Social Security card or any documents that include your Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number.
• Don’t give a business your SSN or ITIN just because they ask. Give it only when required.
• Protect your financial information.
• Check your credit report every 12 months.
• Secure personal information in your home.
• Protect your personal computers by using firewalls and anti-spam/virus software, updating security patches and changing passwords for Internet accounts.
• Don’t give personal information over the phone, through the mail or on the Internet unless you have initiated the contact and are sure of the recipient.
• Be careful when you choose a tax preparer. Most preparers provide excellent service, but there are a few who are unscrupulous.

And on the subject of Unscrupulous Tax Preparers, here is what the IRS Criminal Investigation says to watch out for in any Tax Preparer:


• Taxpayers (not the Tax Preparer/CPA/EA) are responsible for the accuracy of all entries made on their tax returns, which include related schedules, forms and supporting documentation. This remains true whether the return is prepared by the taxpayer or by a return preparer.
• Be careful in selecting the tax professional who will prepare your return. Some basic tips and guidelines to assist taxpayers in choosing a reputable tax professional are:
• Avoid return preparers who claim they can obtain larger refunds than other preparers.
• Avoid preparers who base their fee on a percentage of the amount of the refund.
• Use a reputable tax professional that signs and enters a preparer tax identification number (PTIN) on your tax return and provides you with a copy for your records.
• Consider whether the individual or firm will be around to answer questions about the preparation of your tax return, months, even years, after the return has been filed.
• Never sign a blank tax form.
• Ask questions. Do you know anyone who has used the tax professional? Were they satisfied with the service they received?
Tax Evasion is a crime, a felony, punishable up to 5 years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.
When in doubt, check it out! Taxpayers hearing claims from preparers offering larger refunds than other preparers are encouraged to check it out with a trusted tax professional or the IRS before getting involved.


References:

IRS. March 7, 2013. Helpful Hints when choosing a Return Preparer… http://www.irs.gov/uac/Helpful-Hints-when-choosing-a-Return-Preparer-to-ensure-you-don%27t-hire-an-Abusive-Return-Preparer.

IRS Tax Tips. January 23, 2014. “IRS Warns of Tax-time Scams”. IRS Special Edition Tax Tip 2014-02.