Filing taxes is something we all have to do every year. It’s one of the tasks that adults most dread. You try to do your best to complete everything accurately, but the process is quite complicated – even if you’ve been doing it for years. While you may have done your best to honestly claim everything to the best of your abilities, it’s not uncommon to not be 100% certain you did everything right.
If you receive a phone call from the IRS telling you that you have been accused of serious tax crimes, and you have 24 hours to pay up, you may be confused and worried. Your first inclination may be to apologize and make things right. But there’s one question you should ask yourself first: is this phone call even legitimate?
The hacker approach
Scam artists are becoming increasingly sophisticated, using tactics that can help to deceive innocent victims. They may be able to manipulate their caller ID to make it look as though they’re calling from the IRS. They also do their homework to learn personal details about you. For instance, if you’re an immigrant, they may use scare tactics to threaten deportation. If you’re deaf, they may call using a video relay service.
Hackers may also be more likely to target “vulnerable” groups that are more susceptible to scamming – such as non-native English speakers or the elderly.
If you receive such a call, your first response should be skepticism. First of all, if you acted in good faith when you completed your taxes, it’s highly unlikely that you inadvertently committed serious tax crimes.
Secondly, the IRS won’t typically call you out of the blue, without first trying to contact you by other means.
Another thing to look out for is grammatical mistakes. Such scams are often pre-recorded robocalls, and they may include some awkward-sounding language, such as: “We received notification from headquarters which will get expired in next 24 hours.”
See our recent post on how the IRS does and doesn’t behave for more information on how to recognize a scam.