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IRS Warns Taxpayers About New Social Security Number Scam

Con artists continue to come up with new ways to impersonate the IRS and scam taxpayers out or their money and/or private information. Recently, the IRS issued a warning about a new scam in which callers use intimidation tactics to extort money from taxpayers.

The scammer claims that the call recipient has overdue taxes, and threatens to suspend or cancel the person’s social security number (SSN) unless payment is submitted immediately. Because a valid SSN is needed to obtain employment, open bank and credit accounts, and much more, these calls can be very frightening. However, if you receive such a call, you should not disclose any of your personal information—instead, hang up immediately.

Remember that neither the IRS nor any private collection agency working on the IRS’s behalf will ever:

  • Request payment via wire transfer, prepaid debit card, or gift card. The IRS does not accept any of these forms of payments for tax bills.
  • Ask you to make a payment to any organization other than the US Treasury.
  • Demand immediate payment without giving you the opportunity to appeal the tax bill and/or seek professional representation.
  • Threaten to immediately call in the FBI, local police or any other legal authorities to have you arrested if you do not pay at once.

If you receive any phone call that you believe to be an IRS impersonation scam, you can help your fellow taxpayers by reporting the incident in one of the following ways:

Even if you know that you owe back taxes to the IRS, do not let scammers bully you via email or over the phone. If you have any doubts about the legitimacy of a collection call you receive, hang up. Then call the number on your IRS billing notice or 1-800-829-1040 to talk to an actual IRS representative.

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New IRS impersonation email scam

The Internal Revenue Service and its Security Summit partners warned taxpayers and tax professionals about a new IRS impersonation scam campaign spreading nationally via email.

Remember: the IRS does not send unsolicited emails and never emails taxpayers about the status of refunds.

The email subject line may vary, but recent examples use the phrase “Automatic Income Tax Reminder” or “Electronic Tax Return Reminder.”

The emails have links that show an IRS.gov-like website with details pretending to be about the taxpayer’s refund, electronic return or tax account. The emails contain a “temporary password” or “one-time password” to “access” the files to submit the refund. But when taxpayers try to access these, it turns out to be a malicious file.

“The IRS does not send emails about your tax refund or sensitive financial information,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “This latest scheme is yet another reminder that tax scams are a year-round business for thieves. We urge you to be on-guard at all times.”

This new scam uses dozens of compromised websites and web addresses that pose as IRS.gov, making it a challenge to shut down. By infecting computers with malware, these imposters may gain control of the taxpayer’s computer or secretly download software that tracks every keystroke, eventually giving them passwords to sensitive accounts, such as financial accounts.

The IRS doesn’t initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or social media channels to request personal or financial information. This includes requests for PIN numbers, passwords or similar access information for credit cards, banks or other financial accounts.

The IRS also doesn’t call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail a bill to any taxpayer who owes taxes. See Report Phishing and Online Scams for more details.

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