The IRS has officially begun accepting tax returns for 2015, and unfortunately, with tax season comes tax scams.
The BBB of Chicago and Northern Illinois reports that the IRS telephone tax scam was the number one scam. The U.S. Treasury Department reports that over the past two years, more than 400,000 complaints were received about it, and the BBB says the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration reports 10,000 new scam calls are made every week.
“From January to December last year we saw a steady stream of calls about the IRS Scam, and there is absolutely no reason to think that won’t continue,” says Dennis Horton, director of the Rockford Regional Office of the Better Business Bureau. “Unfortunately, across our service area alone, we expect there will be thousands of consumers who will become victims of this scam.”
Here is how the BBB suggests taxpayers protect themselves.
- For calls – Hang up. The IRS does not contact taxpayers by phone to demand payment. And would never ask that it be sent via wire transfer or pre-paid debit card.
- For emails – Delete it. Like calls the IRS will not send an email. All contact is via U.S. Post Office.
Horton also notes, “Consumer should also understand the IRS doesn’t threaten people with arrest, revocation of their driver’s license or deportation. And, it doesn’t request payment of an outstanding bill without offering taxpayers the opportunity to appeal the bill.”
Tax-related identity theft happens when someone uses your stolen Social Security number to file a tax return claiming a fraudulent refund, in essence stealing your refund. The BBB says victims of tax I.D. Theft should follow these steps:
- If you receive a letter from the IRS saying two (or more) returns have been filed in your name or that your identity has been stolen, call the number in the letter immediately.
- Contact one of the three major credit bureaus to place a ‘fraud alert’ on your credit record.
- If you know or suspect you may be the victim of tax ID theft but haven’t received a letter, call the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490.
- If your Illinois tax refund has been compromised; you should contact the Illinois Dept. of Revenue at 800 732-8866 and state that you have been a victim of ID theft. IDOR has issued a notice that Illinois tax refunds will be delayed until March 1st to allow the agency time to make sure refunds go to the correct individuals.
- Taxpayers who think they might owe current or back taxes to the IRS, they can check with them at 1-800-829-1040.
Consumers who become victims, by paying the scammer or providing information to them should immediately contact the police, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC.gov) and the Tax Inspector General (tigta.gov or phone 800-366 4484).