5 Red Flags to Watch Out for When Receiving IRS Calls: Protect Yourself from Scams

Are you aware of the increasing number of scams involving IRS calls? Scammers are becoming more sophisticated in their attempts to defraud innocent individuals, posing as representatives of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). It’s crucial to be vigilant and recognize the red flags to protect yourself from falling victim to these scams. In this article, we will discuss the five red flags you should watch out for when receiving IRS calls, empowering you to safeguard your personal information and financial well-being.

Scammers impersonating IRS agents often use fear tactics and manipulate unsuspecting individuals into divulging personal information or making immediate payments. By understanding the red flags related to these fraudulent calls, you can effectively protect yourself and avoid becoming a victim of such scams.

1. Threats of Immediate Arrest or Legal Action   

Perhaps the most glaring red flag when it comes to IRS phone scams is a threat of immediate arrest or legal action. It is important to know that legitimate IRS representatives would never make such statements on an initial phone call, or demand ask immediate payment through unconventional methods, such as gift cards, prepaid debit cards, wire transfers, or virtual currencies. The IRS would typically send a series of letters to the individual in question, and only after a series of such letters and communication fails to resolve the issue, would a call be made.

2. Inability to Verify Personal Information  

Another red flag to watch out for when receiving IRS calls is the inability to verify personal information. The IRS will never demand personal information such as a Social Security number, tax identification number, or any other sensitive data over the phone. If an individual is unsure about the legitimacy of the IRS operator, they can ask for his or her name and badge number and subsequently call back on the IRS hotline to authenticate.

3. Demands for Immediate Payment  

As noted earlier, the IRS will never demand payment through unconventional methods such as gift cards, prepaid debit cards, wire transfers, or virtual currencies. Scammers will often attempt to create a sense of urgency by demanding immediate payments and will pressure individuals into making hasty decisions that they may come to regret later on. Legitimate IRS phone call representatives will never demand immediate payment or payment through unconventional means. If the caller demands immediate payment, it raises a red flag, and the individual should end the call.

4. Request to ‘Verify’ Information  

Another tactic used by scammers is the request to ‘verify’ information, which would typically require individuals to provide sensitive personal data, credit card numbers, or bank account details to the caller. The IRS, however, will never call or email you to verify your identity to request that you make changes to your tax account. Legitimate IRS representatives would prefer to send mail before requesting any such information over the phone.

5. Caller Does not Provide Basic Information  

The IRS has provided several guidelines and resources to help recognize legitimate calls from agents. When receiving a call from the IRS, a red flag is if the caller does not provide basic information, such as the agent’s name, phone number, and badge number that they can use to call the IRS back to authenticate the caller. Legitimate IRS agents will readily provide this information to reassure the individual of the legitimacy of the call.

In conclusion, with a sense of awareness and some basic knowledge of the IRS, individuals should be able to quickly identify phone scammers. The bottom line is, be prepared, know your rights, and remember the IRS would never call or demand immediate payment through unconventional methods, demand immediate payment, request personal information over the phone, or threaten an individual with legal action. As the old saying goes, ‘Prevention is better than cure,’ so be cautious and alert to these red flags, and protect yourself from scams this tax season and beyond.

To avoid tax scammers, it is advisable to ask for assistance from a professional tax advisor like Ideal Tax or visit the IRS website to learn more about how to protect yourself. Additionally, it is important to keep a record of all communication with the IRS and never provide any sensitive information over the phone.  A trusted tax professional will be able to assist you in filing your taxes correctly and protect you from potential scams. Be vigilant and stay safe this tax season!

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