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Don't fall for scams from thieves claiming to be with the IRS

Now that we’re well into the final quarter of the calendar year, the new tax season is just around the corner. Of course, there are plenty of special occasions to celebrate between now and January, so you probably won’t have taxes on your mind just yet.

That being said, it is important to be somewhat cautious over the next few months if you are contacted by anyone claiming affiliation with the Internal Revenue Service. There are already a number of IRS-related scams going around, and they will no doubt increase as we approach the new year.

A recent article in Forbes discusses one of these scams by giving an account of “John’s” experience. First, John received a phone call from someone claiming to represent the IRS. He was told that he had been a victim of identity theft and therefore was ineligible to file online. As such, he had to send payment by mail.

The scammers continued the scheme by telling John that he would be receiving a summons in the mail if he didn’t cooperate of if he chose to ignore the communications he was receiving. Thankfully, John didn’t fall for the scam, but plenty of other Americans do.

Getting contacted by the IRS can be scary, especially if you don’t know whether or not it’s really the IRS trying to contact you. Here are some things to watch out for:

  • The real IRS typically contacts individuals by mail first, so an initial phone call might be a warning sign of a scam
  • The real IRS will not ask you for or accept payment over the phone, nor will it ask you to pay with a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer
  • The real IRS will not ask you to send payment by mail to any location other than an IRS Service Center, with an address you can verify online

If your communications from the “IRS” seem legitimate but you still fear that it might be a scam, it’s better to be safe than sorry. You may be able to check with local law enforcement agencies or contact an experienced tax law attorney in your area.

Source: Forbes, “IRS Warns Taxpayers To Be Diligent As Identity Thieves Add New Twist To Phone Scam,” Kelly Phillips Erb, Nov. 7, 2014

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