IRS Warns of New Phone Scam Tactic

The Internal Revenue Service is sounding the warning about a new tactic from phone scammers pretending to work for the IRS.

The IRS said Monday it is receiving new reports of scammers calling under the guise of verifying tax return information over the phone.

The latest variation has been seen in the last few weeks and capitalizes on the current tax season. Scam artists call claiming they have the consumer’s tax return, and they only need to verify a few details to process the return. The scam tries to get taxpayers to give up personal information such as a Social Security number or personal financial information like bank numbers or credit cards.

“These schemes continue to adapt and evolve in an attempt to catch people off guard just as they are preparing their tax returns,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen in a statement. “Don’t be fooled. The IRS won’t be calling you out of the blue asking you to verify your personal tax information or aggressively threatening you to make an immediate payment.”

The IRS is reminding taxpayers to safeguard against all sorts of con games that continually change. The IRS, the states and the tax industry came together in 2015 and launched a public awareness campaign called Taxes. Security. Together. to help educate taxpayers about the need to maintain security online and to recognize and avoid “phishing” and other schemes.

Nevertheless, the IRS continues to hear reports of phone scams as well as e-mail phishing schemes across the country.

“These schemes touch people in every part of the country and in every walk of life,” said Koskinen. “It’s a growing list of people who’ve encountered these. I’ve even gotten these calls myself.”

In January, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration said it has received reports of approximately 896,000 phone scam contacts since October 2013, and more than 5,000 victims who have collectively paid over $26.5 million as a result of the scam. The IRS has seen a 400 percent increase in phishing schemes this year.

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