With the tax season wrapping up, scammers are out in full force. Perhaps you received a phone call demanding payment from the IRS. They may threaten you with legal action if you do not pay immediately, or say things like, “we are sending the police to arrest you.” While these calls may seem scary, it is important to understand that they are not legitimate. This scam, which started in October 2013, has claimed over $29 million from its victims. Unfortunately, this is just one of many scams designed to make you believe you are speaking with a legitimate government official.
Scammers use many tactics in an attempt to force victims to give out information, and sometimes money, via telephone or email. In Social Security related scams, they often call under a guise of helping you complete a disability application, asking you for your Social Security number or banking information.
Whether they are with Social Security or the IRS, a government employee will never do some things as part of official agency business, including:
- Call you to demand an immediate payment;
- Demand that you pay a debt without the ability to appeal the amount you owe;
- Require a specific means of payment, such as requiring you to pay with a prepaid debit card;
- Ask you for your personal information or credit or debit card numbers over the phone; or
- Threaten you with arrest or deportation.
Any legitimate request from a government agency will come to you in writing. Additionally, if you do receive a call from a government official, they will be able to provide you with a telephone number and extension. If you receive one of these scam calls or emails, do not provide them with any information. You should:
- Hang up immediately;
- For Social Security impersonations, contact Social Security’s Office of Inspector General at https://oig.ssa.gov/report;
- For IRS impersonations, contact the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at www.treasury.gov/tigta, using the “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” page; and
- Contact the Federal Trade Commission on FTC.gov.
If you are attempting to conduct business with any government agency, or you have received a notice from such an agency, please utilize the telephone numbers provided in the notification. Additionally, you can find contact information on any .gov website such as socialsecurity.gov or irs.gov.