Scammers aiming to defraud consumers during tax season are out in full force.
IRS Phone Scam
In one of the most common phone scams the Attorney General’s Office has seen in recent months, criminals call consumers claiming to be with the Internal Revenue Service and demand immediate payment of past-due taxes. Scammers might threaten arrest and jail time if the payment is not received immediately, and usually request that the money be paid back though the purchase of pre-paid cards.
The Attorney General’s Office has received nearly 200 complaints about this scam in January and February so far, and more than 1,100 complaints were received in 2014.
If you receive a call like this, hang up immediately. The IRS will never initiate contact over the phone. They will always reach out first through official correspondence by mail. Additionally, the IRS will never ask for credit card, debit card or prepaid card information over the phone.
You should also register your cell or landline phone numbers on the state’s Do Not Call list by Feb. 17, the next quarterly deadline to sign up. Having your number on the Do Not Call list acts as a red flag warning you that the call you are receiving may be a scam.
To sign up, visit www.IndianaConsumer.com or call 1 (888) 834-9969. Individuals do not need to re-register unless their address has changed.
If you think you’ve been targeted by the IRS scam, call the IRS at 1 (800) 829-1040 to confirm the call you received was fraudulent. You should also report the scam to the Indiana Attorney General’s Office by filing a complaint online at www.IndianaConsumer.com or by calling 1.888.834.9969.
Tax ID Theft
Another serious threat during tax season is tax identity theft, in which a criminal uses a legitimate taxpayer’s personal information to file a tax return. This can happen if a criminal obtains access to information like your Social Security Number, which could also be done through IRS impersonation.
A common tactic is for criminals to send out scam emails that claim to be from the IRS and request personal or financial information. Do not respond to unsolicited emails like this. Instead, forward the message to the IRS at [email protected].
The Indiana Attorney General’s Office received 353 complaints about tax ID theft in 2014, and 11 complaints in recent months. The best protection to avoid these tax-related scams is to file your taxes as early as possible to get ahead of criminals.
For more tips on preventing identity theft, visit www.IndianaConsumer.com/idtheft and for tips on avoiding telephone scams, visit www.in.gov/attorneygeneral/2539.htm.
Consumers who are targeted in any of these tax-related or other scams can file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office by visiting www.IndianaConsumer.com or calling 1 (800) 382-5516.