By TERRI BRYCE REEVES
The tax season is underway and the IRS wants
seniors to be alert to telephone scammers and
phishing schemes. Phishing is a scam typically carried
out through unsolicited email and/or websites that pose
as legitimate sites and lure unsuspecting victims to
provide personal and financial information.
In recent years, thousands of people have lost
millions of dollars and personal information to tax
scams and fake IRS communication.
Remember the IRS doesn’t initiate contact with
taxpayers by email, text messages or social media
channels to request information such as PIN numbers,
passwords or access information for credit cards, banks
or other financial accounts.
Generally, the IRS will first mail a bill to any
taxpayer who owes taxes. All tax payments should only
be made payable to the U.S. Treasury; checks should
never be made payable to third parties.
Remain alert to aggressive and threatening phone
calls by criminals impersonating IRS agents. These
con artists use fake names and usually alter the caller
ID to make it look like the IRS is calling.
They will tell victims they owe money to the IRS
and must pay it promptly through a pre-loaded debit
card, gift card or wire transfer. If the victim refuses to
cooperate, they are often threatened with arrest.
Alternately, victims may be told they have a
refund due to try to trick them into sharing private
information. If the phone isn’t answered, the phone
scammers often leave an “urgent” call-back request.
“The IRS doesn’t do business like that,” said IRS
Commissioner John Koskinen. “We urge seniors to
safeguard their personal information at all times. Don’t
let the convincing tone of these scam calls lead you to
provide personal or credit card information, potentially
losing hundreds or thousands of dollars. Just hang up
and avoid becoming a victim to these criminals.”
The IRS has identified a new scam whereby
cyber criminals steal data from tax practitioners’
computers and file fraudulent tax returns using
taxpayers’ real bank accounts for the deposit. The con
artists then contact the taxpayers to say a refund was
deposited in error and ask the taxpayers to send them