- Personal Finance
Watch Out for IRS Scams
Hucksters never seem to stop. They are always coming up with new ways to steal people’s hard-earned money. The latest trend sweeping the nation? Impersonating the IRS. These people are raking in millions. One of the epicenters is right here in South Florida. Earlier this year, 5 people were arrested for scamming thousands of taxpayers (mostly senior citizens) out of millions of dollars. And this was only of many cases making their way through the legal system!
How are they doing this? Telemarketing. They pretend to be the IRS, call people up, and threaten them with immediate arrest or eviction if the intended victim doesn’t wire money to them immediately. Some go even further than that and tell people their kids are going to be taken away. It takes a special kind of lowlife to tell people their kids are going to be removed over back taxes.
These people are not the IRS. They are never the IRS. THE IRS WILL NOT INITIATE CONTACT BY PHONE*. If you get a phone call from someone purporting to be from the IRS, don’t believe it. Hang up, and report the number so hopefully the scam artists will be caught before they defraud someone else of their life savings.
Some of these scammers are starting to send out letters instead of or in addition to calling people. If you get a letter, verify that it is from the IRS before taking any action. Here’s some tips for doing this:
-check the logo to be sure it is correct
-make sure the return address is from the IRS
-double check the phone number to make certain it is correct
-look at what they are asking for; if they are making threats or asking you to wire them money, it’s a fraud
All of these things can be verified via the IRS website. If it doesn’t check out, it’s a scam. Whenever you have any doubts, call the IRS and ask them if they contacted you.
Please spread this information far and wide! One of my main goals is to keep people from falling prey to these scammers, and that means they need to know how to avoid them.
*In very rare circumstances when a taxpayer owes more than $50,000 and is several years past due in tax filings, the IRS will hire a private collections firm to track them down. Even if this applies to you, do not pay these people! Call the IRS to find out what is really going on with your case.