Tax season is just around the corner, and this year as it draws closer the IRS is warning taxpayers about a new scam specifically targeting the hearing impaired. Calls claiming to be from the IRS are being made over video relay services (VRS) to taxpayers with hearing loss. In the calls, scammers aggressively seek to obtain identity and financial information or demand immediate payment for an outstanding tax bill. Here are a few ways to identify a fraudulent call and avoid falling prey to scammers impersonating the IRS.
Know How To Recognize a Scam
*First off, don’t trust a call just because it is made through a relay service. VRS providers are not responsible for screening callers, so they cannot tell you if a call is legitimately coming from the IRS or from another party. Since VRS providers do not screen callers, someone on the line claiming to be from the IRS is not necessarily official.
*Calls from the IRS will never demand things from you immediately. If a caller insists that you need to pay an outstanding tax bill right then and over the phone, it is a scam. When the IRS is contacting you about a tax bill there will be a variety of ways to make a payment, double check and question the amount of the bill and ways to appeal the charge.
*A scam call will often insist that failure to pay an outstanding tax bill immediately will result in your arrest or the confiscation of your property. A call from the real IRS will never threaten such consequences.
*Most prominently, a scam call will ask for credit and debit card numbers over the phone. Scammers and identity thieves will put pressure on their victims to give out personal information without questioning. Never give personal information over the phone unless you are absolutely certain you know who is on the other end of the line. The IRS will never ask for account numbers over the phone or VRS.
*In most cases the IRS will contact you in writing before you receive a call. If you receive a VRS call about a tax bill that you do not recognize and have not been previously contacted about, the likelihood is high the call is a scam. When you receive a VRS call about an unfamiliar tax bill, do not pay it before double checking the charges with the IRS.
What To Do If You Receive a Fraudulent Call
*After a dubious VRS call many taxpayers are nervous or unsure as to whether they have an outstanding tax bill. Taxpayers with hearing loss can contact the IRS directly through their toll free VRS line at 1-800-829-1040. Before you make any payments towards tax bills you are unsure of, confirm the situation with the IRS.
*If you receive a VRS call that is a scam call impersonating the IRS you will want to report the it to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 800-366-4484. Reporting a scam helps officials track and shut down scammers. When you report a scam, it helps control its spread and keeps other people from falling prey to it.
*Taxpayers who receive fraudulent calls may also want to file a complaint report with the Federal Trade Commission. FTC complaints should include “IRS Telephone Scam” in the complaint notes.
*The IRS has issued its official warning about the scam online in addition to several YouTube videos to spread understanding about the issue. The IRS has a secure government website, www.irs.gov where they also post information about other known methods that scammers target taxpayers. To search for more information, you can visit the IRS website and search for “Dirty Dozen” which highlights the top twelve scams and schemes geared toward obtaining taxpayer information.
Exceptional Hearing Care
At Exceptional Hearing Care we thrive when you thrive. We know that protecting your identity is as important as protecting your hearing. Our hearing specialists are focused on giving you the thorough and thoughtful care you need to hear your best. We can help answer your hearing health questions and offer you personalized treatment and solutions for hearing loss. Make a habit of getting an annual hearing test and keep on top of your hearing health with Exceptional Hearing Care.