AUSTIN (KXAN) — Aggressive and threatening phone calls by criminals impersonating IRS agents remain a major threat to taxpayers, headlining the annual “Dirty Dozen” list of tax schemes for the 2016 filing season, the Internal Revenue Service announced earlier this month.
The scheme artists threaten police arrest, deportation, license revocation, among other things, the IRS says. “Don’t be fooled by callers pretending to be from the IRS in an attempt to steal your money,” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said. “We continue to say, if you are surprised to be hearing from us, then you’re not hearing from us.”
The Dirty Dozen list is compiled annually by the IRS and lists a variety of schemes taxpayers may encounter. The government says it has received reports of around 896,000 scheme calls since Oct. 2013, with more than 5,000 victims who have paid over $26.5 million as a result of the scheme.
Five things a schemer, but not the IRS, will do:
- Call to demand immediate payment. The agency will not call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.
- Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
- Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
- Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
- Threaten to bring in local police or other law enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
Reporting an IRS scheme call
The IRS recommends you take the following steps when answering a scheme call:
- Do not give out any information. Hang up immediately.
- Contact TIGTA (Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration) to report the call. You can use the IRS Impersonation Scheme Reporting website or call 800-366-4484.
- Report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the FTC Complaint Assistant website. Add “IRS Telephone Scheme” in the notes.
If you know or think you owe taxes, call the IRS at 800-829-1040. You can also sign up for the National “Do Not Call” Registry here.