IRS Scam Alert

It almost seems like a monthly rite of passage when the latest tax scam comes up that I have to cover in this spot. I almost can’t believe it sometimes, but as long as the IRS keeps putting out warnings, I feel it is my job to pass them along. At least with this latest one, it gives me the opportunity to highlight many of the things to look out for all at once.

First, the new scam starts with receiving a phone call claiming that you must make a payment through a prepaid debit card that is apparently linked to the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS). The system exists, and talking of it seems to lend credence to the scammer’s claim. The reality, though, is that it does not utilize this one magic mode of payment.

Second, there is a claim made that payment must be made immediately to avoid arrest. Although the process of working through a tax issue may never be fun, it is never that quick, and rarely that dire.

Also, the scam caller claims that there were previous attempts to contact the taxpayer via certified mail that were returned as undeliverable. Never pay heed to such words, for you should always assume that the first word you get from the IRS about any potential problem will come in writing.

Finally, the call comes with warnings to not contact a tax preparer, attorney, or local IRS office before making the payment. That’s because those are the people who could lead you to finding out that the whole thing is not legitimate.

Those are the four prongs of the latest attack, which has been reported across the country, but they all share some things in common.

Scam artists are out to play on fear. Each piece of this scam tries to build on the fear of reprisals while offering a way to make it end as quickly as possible.

If anyone, for any reason, ever asks for payment in a form of currency that can’t be traced, there is something illegitimate going on. Even if it is to purchase an opportunity that seems too be good to be true, remember it is because it is too good to be true.  And why would the IRS not accept a check or a wire from your bank account? I mean, wouldn’t that direct payment from a bank account be faster than adding another middle-man transaction?

And if the federal government is able to track you down by phone, apparently has your legal information on a tax return, why couldn’t it get a letter into your hands first?

Finally, why would someone not want you to be in contact with the very people who are most knowledgeable about what is supposedly going on? If it was legitimate, wouldn’t they want to involve those who can help things reach an endpoint?

Listen to those questions that come up in your mind, and if you ever fear you may be becoming a potential victim of fraud, do contact someone, for I can help.