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Beware of IRS Phone Scams

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Authored by Nathaniel J. Krautkramer

As a tax professional, a large part of my job involves educating clients. Part of that education is helping clients understand how the IRS and Wisconsin Department of Revenue go about collecting tax debts, and the options available to delinquent taxpayers. So when I recently received my second robocall voice mail message informing me that the IRS was about to file a lawsuit against me and that I needed to call back immediately, I decided to share this information with my readers. While my first reaction was to chuckle and delete the message because I recognized it was a scam, it really is not a laughing matter. I have heard of people who have lost thousands of dollars after receiving one of these calls.

What happens when someone calls the number in the phone message? The scammer who answers usually provides a fake name and IRS badge number, then proceeds to make aggressive threats concerning what will happen if the caller does not immediately obtain prepaid credit cards and provide payment information over the phone right then and there. I have even heard of the scammer threatening to have the caller arrested or deported if he or she disconnected from the call. This is done to prevent the victim from being able to investigate the matter or talk to anyone that might be able to help them. During the phone call, the scammer may also ask to verify items like the caller’s address and social security number, allowing the theft of your identity as part of this whole ordeal.

Simply put, this is not how the Internal Revenue Service collects on its tax debts. It is a common enough problem, however, that the IRS has issued several warnings about these types of activities. For example, in their IRS Tax Tip 2015-20 published on February 17, 2015, they noted that:

The real IRS will not:

  • Initiate contact with you by phone, email, text or social media to ask for your personal or financial information.
  • Call you and demand immediate payment. The IRS will not call about taxes you owe without first mailing you a bill.
  • Require that you pay your taxes a certain way. For example, telling you to pay with a prepaid debit card.

Before you are called by a tax agency you will always receive at least one statement describing the unpaid tax type(s) and amount(s) due. You will also likely receive letters requesting that you contact a named collections officer to discuss how the debt can be resolved. If you ignore these letters the agency may move forward with collection, including garnishing wages or levying bank accounts, after sending you the required notices.

If you are receiving collection letters from either the IRS or the Wisconsin Department of Revenue, and have questions about what you can do to address the problem, give me a call at 715-842-2162. I will be happy to sit down with you, review the situation, and walk you through the options available to get your tax debts resolved.

This blog post contains general information regarding public news, matters, and developments in the law. None of the information contained on this blog post is intended as legal advice or opinion relative to specific matters, facts, situations, or issues. Additional facts and information or future developments may affect the subjects addressed and no guarantee is given that the information provided in this blog post is correct, complete, and up-to-date. Consult with an attorney before acting or relying upon any information contained in this blog post.
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