Posting by John Merchant

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently released its annual “dirty dozen” tax related scams that they find are being perpetrated on unsuspecting victims. This year phone scams were at the top of the list. According to the IRS, scam artists will call on the telephone pretending to be IRS collection agents and demanding payment on an outstanding tax bill that is totally phony. They may demand that the taxpayer give them a credit card number to be used for payment or suggest that the taxpayer mail a prepaid debit card to some address. If the taxpayer is hesitant, they will often resort to various threats such as arrest, deportation and license revocation.

In a twist on this scheme, the scammer may announce that the taxpayer is due a refund and ask for bank account information and a social security number to verify that they have the right person so that they can wire transfer the refund to the taxpayer. Or, they may send an e-mail requesting personal information in regard to a tax matter. The IRS emphasizes that its first contact about a tax matter is never by telephone or e-mail. Rather, it is by letter.

If you receive a call or an e-mail from a person claiming to be from the IRS and wanting to discuss a tax matter that you have never heard of, do not give them any information. Instead, call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 and ask them for confirmation of any outstanding bill or refund.

For more information on this and other tax scams, check the IRS website at www.irs.gov.

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