TaxTips-Phone ScamsIRS Warns of New Phone Scam

ISSUE:

A new phone scam is on the loose whereby fraudsters – sometimes using automated phone calls – are attempting to extort by fear.

 

SITUATION:

Marathon Bible College (MBC) is a private college exempt under Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3) and section 170(b)(1)(A)(ii).  Their CFO sent us the following email this week…

“We have gotten two automated calls in the last couple days with a message saying that we are being investigated and to call Officer James Smith back at 888-555-0768.  I tried calling just now and no one answered.  I imagine this is a scam, right?”

It would appear so.

 

RULES:

From IRS Publication Webpage, “IRS Warns of New Phone Scam Involving Bogus Certified Letters; Reminds People to Remain Vigilant Against Scams, Schemes this Summer” (IR-2017-17, June 15, 2017):

WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service today warned people to beware of a new scam linked to the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS), where fraudsters call to demand an immediate tax payment through a prepaid debit card. This scam is being reported across the country, so taxpayers should be alert to the details.

In the latest twist, the scammer claims to be from the IRS and tells the victim about two certified letters purportedly sent to the taxpayer in the mail but returned as undeliverable. The scam artist then threatens arrest if a payment is not made through a prepaid debit card. The scammer also tells the victim that the card is linked to the EFTPS system when, in fact, it is entirely controlled by the scammer. The victim is also warned not to contact their tax preparer, an attorney or their local IRS office until after the tax payment is made.

Tell Tale Signs of a Scam:

The IRS (and its authorized private collection agencies) will never:

  • Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. The IRS does not use these methods for tax payments. Generally, the IRS will first mail a bill to any taxpayer who owes taxes. All tax payments should only be made payable to the U.S. Treasury and checks should never be made payable to third parties.
  • Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have the taxpayer arrested for not paying.
  • Demand that taxes be paid without giving the taxpayer the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

For anyone who doesn’t owe taxes and has no reason to think they do:

  • Do not give out any information. Hang up immediately.
  • Contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration to report the call. Use their IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting web page. Alternatively, call 800-366-4484.
  • Report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the FTC Complaint Assistant on FTC.gov. Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.

 

BOTTOM LINE:

 

  • The IRS doesn’t initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or social media channels to request personal or financial information.
  • If you receive a potential “scam phone call,” do not give out any information. Hang up immediately.
  • EFTPS is offered free by the U.S. Department of Treasury and does not require the purchase of a prepaid debit card.
  • For more information, check out:

https://www.irs.gov/uac/newsroom/irs-warns-of-new-phone-scam-involving-bogus-certified-letters-reminds-people-to-remain-vigilant-against-scams-schemes-this-summer

 

Specific questions? Email Dave Moja

The information provided herein presents general information and should not be relied on as accounting, tax, or legal advice when analyzing and resolving a specific tax issue. If you have specific questions regarding a particular fact situation, please consult with competent accounting, tax, and/or legal counsel about the facts and laws that apply.