CARSON CITY, Nev. (KOLO) - Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford is warning consumers to be vigilant in protecting themselves from phony Internal Revenue Service scams as the 2019 tax season begins.
“As tax day approaches, scammers are finding new ways to take advantage of this stressful time,” says Ford. “This week, I received a phony IRS call, which should serve as a reminder to each of us that we must be vigilant in recognizing and reporting scams like this. Awareness is the best form of prevention.”
Scammers impersonating the IRS routinely contact people and business owners via telephone, e-mail and even regular mail. Scammers may use a variety of tactics to make their calls appear legitimate and convincing, including using caller ID that shows the IRS as the caller; providing a fake IRS badge number; or listing sensitive personal information such as the last four digits of your Social Security number.
The caller then informs the taxpayer that he or she owes money to the IRS, and uses a variety of scare tactics to persuade the taxpayer to send payment with a money transfer or prepaid debit card. These tactics might include the threat of arrest, deportation or the loss of a business or driver’s license unless the balance is immediately paid. Often, this is the first the taxpayer hears of the debt, when he or she may not owe anything at all.
In reality, the IRS will not initiate contact about a tax obligation by phone, email or social media. If a consumer suspects the caller is an impostor, the best option is to hang up and call the IRS directly to confirm whether any money is owed. If you are able to gather information or specifics about the caller, you are encouraged to report the call to the Federal Trade Commission or the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.
As consumers’ awareness of the tax scam calls increases, fraudsters have moved to other media to adapt. Some tax scammers have been sending fraudulent CP2000 notices via email or regular mail to consumers.
The IRS generates and sends a CP2000 notice when income reported from third-party sources does not match the income reported on a taxpayer’s return. The fake notices strongly resemble the CP2000 notices that the IRS sends out, with some key differences. According to the IRS, the indicators that a CP2000 form is fake include:
• The notice is sent electronically. The IRS does not initiate contact via email or social media;
• The notice appears to be issued from and asks for payment to be returned to an Austin, Texas address; and
• The notice requests that checks or money orders be made out to “I.R.S.”. Legitimate notices require checks to be made out to “United States Treasury.”
Taxpayers may compare the CP2000 notices they receive by regular mail to the image on the IRS’s web page Understanding Your CP2000 Notice.
In addition to the amount owed and payment instructions, a real notice provides extensive instructions on what to do if the taxpayer agrees or disagrees with the additional amount owed. Taxpayers or tax professionals who suspect they have received a fake notice via email can forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org.