MONROE, La (KNOE) - The Internal Revenue Service recently warned the public about a new twist on the IRS impersonation phone scam whereby criminals fake calls from the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS), an independent organization within the IRS.
Similar to other IRS impersonation scams, thieves make unsolicited phone calls to their intended victims fraudulently claiming to be from the IRS. In this most recent scam variation, callers "spoof" the telephone number of the IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service office in Houston or Brooklyn. Calls may be 'robo-calls' that request a call back. Once the taxpayer returns the call, the con artist requests personal information, including Social Security number or individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN).
TAS can help protect your taxpayer rights. TAS can help if you need assistance resolving an IRS problem, if your problem is causing financial difficulty, or if you believe an IRS system or procedure isn't working as it should. TAS does not initiate calls to taxpayers "out of the blue." Typically, a taxpayer would contact TAS for help first, and only then would TAS reach out to the taxpayer.
In other variations of the IRS impersonation phone scam, fraudsters demand immediate payment of taxes by a prepaid debit card or wire transfer. The callers are often hostile and abusive.
Alternately, scammers may tell would-be victims that they are entitled to a large refund but must first provide personal information. Other characteristics of these scams include:
• Scammers use fake names and IRS badge numbers to identify themselves.
• Scammers may know the last four digits of the taxpayer's Social Security number.
• Scammers spoof caller ID to make the phone number appear as if the IRS or another local law enforcement agency is calling.
• Scammers may send bogus IRS emails to victims to support their bogus calls.
• Victims hear background noise of other calls to mimic a call site.
• After threatening victims with jail time or with, driver's license or other professional license revocation, scammers hang up. Others soon call back pretending to be from local law enforcement agencies or the Department of Motor Vehicles, and caller ID again supports their claim.
GMA What are some of the scammer "lines" being used?
BBB Taxpayers should remember that any one of these is a tell-tale sign of a scam that the IRS will never do:
• 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.
• Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have the taxpayer arrested for not paying.
• Demand that taxes be paid without giving taxpayers the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.
• Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
• Call about an unexpected refund.
Courtesy: MGN Online
GMA Who are Ghost Tax preparers?
BBB By law, anyone who is paid to prepare or assist in preparing federal tax returns must have a valid 2019 Preparer Tax Identification Number, or PTIN. Paid preparers must sign the return and include their PTIN.
But 'ghost' preparers do not sign the return. Instead, they print the return and tell the taxpayer to sign and mail it to the IRS. Or, for e-filed returns, they prepare but refuse to digitally sign it as the paid preparer.
According to the IRS, similar to other tax preparation schemes, dishonest and unscrupulous ghost tax return preparers look to make a fast buck by promising a big refund or charging fees based on a percentage of the refund. These scammers hurt honest taxpayers who are simply trying to do the right thing and file a legitimate tax return.
Ghost tax return preparers may also:
• Require payment in cash only and not provide a receipt.
• Invent income to erroneously qualify their clients for tax credits or claim fake deductions to boost their refunds.
• Direct refunds into their own bank account rather than the taxpayer's account.
The IRS urges taxpayers to review their tax return carefully before signing and ask questions if something is not clear. And for any direct deposit refund, taxpayers should make sure both the routing and bank account number on the completed tax return are correct.