With school back in session across the region, the IRS is warning taxpayers of telephone scams that are targeting students and parents (IRS Newswire Issue IR-2006-107).  This scam involves phone calls in which the caller demands immediate payment for non-existent taxes, including a “Federal Student Tax.”   In several reported cases, the caller becomes angry or belligerent when the individual does not immediately comply, often resorting to threats of imprisonment for the parent, the student, or both.

As IRS Commissioner John Koskinen states:  “Although variations of the IRS impersonation scam continue year-round, they tend to peak when scammers find prime opportunities to strike.  As students and parents enter the new school year, they should remain alert to bogus calls, including those demanding fake tax payments from students.”

There are some additional tactics scammers have employed recently to make their request for payment seem “legitimate,” including:
• Altering the caller ID on incoming phone calls in an attempt to make it seem like the IRS, the local police or another agency is calling
• Demanding fake tax payments using iTunes gift cards
• Asking to “verify” tax return information over the phone
• Pretending to be from the tax preparation industry

If you receive an unexpected call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, please be alert to some telltale things that the IRS will NEVER do:
• Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail you a bill if you owe any taxes.
• Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
• Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
• Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

If you get a suspicious phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money, here’s what you should do:
• Do not give out any information. Hang up immediately.
• Search the web for telephone numbers scammers leave in your voicemail asking you to call back. Some of the phone numbers may be published online and linked to criminal activity.
• Contact TIGTA to report the call. Use their “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” web page or 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.
• If you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS directly at 800-829-1040.

And of course, if you receive a phone call that you think may be a scam, you should always feel free to contact us.  We can reach out directly to the IRS on your behalf to ensure your account is current.  Please be certain to share this post with your loved ones as well (especially children that may be heading off to college).  And we want to wish everyone a happy, productive, and safe start to the new school year!