Tip: Tax Season Scams

It’s that time again. Yep, Tax time, and what better way to add to your fiscal woes than with a call from your (un)friendly IRS scammer.

As tax day draws closer, so too will the scammers. Phone calls (vishing attack) and emails (phishing attack) asking for your info are a constant problem these days, but around tax day we experience a whole new level of viscous attacks. In fact I’d say that it has now become its own season.

So, what are we looking for?

Phone scams: Type 1
Phone calls where the caller is claiming to be from the IRS. They’re on the clock so they don’t usually waste too much time getting directly to the point, which is, “You owe taxes! Pay, or else! “  Now, generally they’ll be courteous, at first. But if they feel like you’re not going to take the bate quickly, they’ll move directly to threats. They’ll threaten you with police action, prison, or just about anything they can in an attempt to scare you.  The more you resist giving them what they want, the more they threaten.

Phone scams: Type 2
Robocalls. This is a very popular one as it cuts the attackers overhead in personnel as well as time. The Robocall will be an automated caller (machine) urging you that you owe taxes and should call a phone number immediately to avoid prosecution. These “Call Back” scams aren’t particularly as scary as the in-person calls, but they do tend to deliver a fair amount of “what if” to the receiver.

Keep in mind, if you do call the number they give you, you will be confronted with the same conversation as in Type 1.

Email Scams: Phishing
Phishing scams are always popular, they’re simple, easy to write, and can hit a good number of targets at one time. And can be repeated relentlessly. As in with the other cases the point is to get your money, or valuable information. Email scams can be just as dangerous as the phone scams, but in this case they may have an added focal point of deceit. They may look as though they come from the IRS, and even transfer you to a site that looks like the IRS website. But it’s not. Sometimes all they need to do is trick one of your senses.

In each of the cases the attackers can use technology against their victims by spoofing the things we’ve become accustom to checking for.  Phone scammers can spoof caller ID’s, and often throw out bogus badge or case numbers. Email scammers can spoof return email addresses, header graphics, signatures (graphics) and even entire websites (if you’ve accidentally clicked the link in the email).  And every year the scammers try new and inventive ways to trick us. So be on guard.

Knowing the facts can save you a lot of hassle.

  1. The IRS is NOT going to call you and ask for payment right then and there. What they will do, is send you a bill in the mail.
  2. The IRS is NOT going to ask that you pay in iTunes gift cards! C’mon people. Nor are they going to demand payment in such a specific form.  What they will do is give you a lot of options to pay.
  3. The IRS is NOT going to ask for your credit card OR personal information over the phone.

REMEMBER: Any unsolicited phone call you receive should NEVER ask for your personal information.  If you called the IRS (the real IRS) and then they start asking for personal info, that’s another matter. But anyone that calls YOU, should never ask for your personal information….  Or at least you should never give it to them.
If it’s a legitimate call, they will be perfectly fine with you saying, “I’m sorry, I’m not comfortable giving that information over the phone. I will contact your organization directly and proceed at a later date.”
Then you’ll go find a legitimate number for that organization/company and call them yourself (even if they give you a contact number). If they are legitimate, they’re trained to understand.
If they’re not legitimate, they’ll probably argue the point, “Well, I’m already right here, and I can take care of this for you, right now.”
Nope, be sure to stand your ground and if at any time you feel the slightest pressure, HANG UP.
Hanging up is your best defense in any circumstance. They can’t argue, they can’t do ANYTHING on a dead line. You are safe.  By the way, hanging up works on legitimate calls as well.  😉

Stay safe out there.

Oh, one more thing. The IRS takes this very seriously. Please report any scam calls or emails to the IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting page. It doesn’t just help you, it helps everybody.

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