Protect Yourself: IRS Phone Scams Top Tax Scams for 2017
At some point in our lives, most of us have received a phone call from someone claiming that they have your information and that you owe (or are owed) a sum of money. As tax season rolls around and small business owners enter tax preparation mode, how can we determine if callers are legitimate or IRS phone scams?
Determining if a Phone Call is Real or Fraudulent
Let’s look at a few key factors in determining an IRS phone scam:
- Does the caller already have your information? In many cases, if the caller doesn’t already have the proper identification required to assess what you owe or what you are owed, then it is probably a scam.
- Is the caller willing to verify their identity? If a caller is unwilling to go to great lengths to verify their identity, without a shadow of a doubt, then it may be a scam. Any legitimate company will have no fear of letting you do a little research before allowing you to make or receive a payment.
- Is the caller attempting to resolve matters immediately? The IRS, or most organizations, will not require that you settle the issue over the phone. IRS phone scams won’t want you to have time to figure out that they are, in fact, scammers. Ask the caller if they mind if you take the time to do a little background check on the organization, tell them that you’ll be thoroughly researching the company online. If a caller is pushing to settle the matter in one single phone call, it may be a scam.
How Are You Being Notified?
The IRS will rarely place telephone calls regarding tax information. If anything, it’s because phoning everyone with a tax issue would require far too many man hours. You will likely receive a notification in the mail, or possibly even by email, or in many cases it will be both.
Call the IRS to Determine If You Owe Anything
As aforementioned, if the caller is demanding a resolution over the phone, it is probably a scam. Any legitimate organization will give you time to do your research. If you are in doubt, or even if you aren’t, a good move is to simply call the IRS to find out for sure. You can find the appropriate contact information via the IRS web site.
Knowledge is Power: Preventing IRS Phone Scams Together
According to findings by Truecaller in 2016, approximately 27 million Americans had been scammed out of about $7.4 billion dollars the previous year, which is a 53% increase from 2014. They reported that the average Americans receive a staggering 15.8 spam calls and 6.3 spam text messages in an average month.
But there is a shining light in all of this darkness: scams are avoidable. If we educate ourselves on how to avoid being scammed out of our money, then the scammers will no longer have anyone to prey upon.
Amanda Edens is the Community Liaison & Blog Manager at Larry L. Bertsch, CPA & Associates, a top certified public accountants firm offering quality accounting and tax preparation services since 2003.