Tax scammers are again at work and your small businesses could be vulnerable just like other consumers. Authorities insist calls from scammers claiming to be with the Internal Revenue Service are on the rise around the country.
Just in case you are not aware of this tax scam, it works on fear and intimidation by the criminals. They call their victims and leave a menacing message on voice mail stating you have a warrant for your arrest because of a tax violation. When you call the number to find out what it is all about, the ruse continues to play out until they talk you into sending them money.
Here’s what you need to protect your business and yourself.
A very important thing to remember about these types of tax scams is they work on fear and the victims lack of information. If you take the time to verify the information, the fear will go away because you will be armed with facts. And ignorance of the facts is the greatest weapon for these criminals.
The callers sound professional, going as far as providing fake IRS badge numbers and altering the caller ID numbers to make it seem the call is coming from the agency. Additionally, they have pertinent information that makes it even more convincing, including names, addresses and other identifying information.
According to the IRS, these tax scams cost around 4,550 victims more than $23 million since October 2013. And many victims of scams are afraid to report the crime, which means the losses could be much higher. The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), has received around 736,000 scam contacts since October 2013.
The IRS wants you to know several facts regarding how the agency contacts individuals.
- The IRS doesn’t call and demand immediate payment. The agency only calls after first sending you a bill in the mail if you owe taxes.
- The IRS doesn’t demand you pay taxes without letting you question or appeal the amount you owe.
- The IRS doesn’t require you to pay what you owe in prescribed way, such as the prepaid debit card the scammers use.
- The IRS doesn’t ask for your credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
- And more importantly, the IRS doesn’t threaten to bring law enforcement agencies to arrest you for not paying.
If you receive calls for these types of tax scams, hang up and report it to your local law enforcement agency. You can visit “Tax Scams and Consumer Alerts” on IRS.gov to get more information.
Forewarned is forearmed. And while it is impossible to know everything, always verify to whom you are sending your money by hanging up and calling the agency claiming you owe them money.
The IRS also wants you to know, “Each and every taxpayer has a set of fundamental rights they should be aware of when dealing with the IRS. These are your Taxpayer Bill of Rights. Explore your rights and our obligations to protect them on IRS.gov.”
Scam Photo via Shutterstock