Beware of IRS- and Tax-Related Scams

town of wake forest news

The Wake Forest Police Department is warning area residents not to be fooled by scammers impersonating IRS investigators. Callers claiming to be from the IRS tell intended victims they owe taxes and must pay using a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer. The scammers threaten those who refuse to pay with arrest, deportation or loss of a business or driver’s license.

Potential phone scam victims may be told they owe money that must be paid immediately to the IRS or they are entitled to big refunds. When unsuccessful the first time, sometimes phone scammers call back trying a new strategy.

The callers who commit this fraud often share the following characteristics:

Use common names and fake IRS badge numbers.

Know the last four digits of the victim’s Social Security number.

Make caller ID appear as if the IRS is calling.

Send bogus IRS emails to support their scam.

Call a second time claiming to be the police or DMV, and caller ID again supports their claim.

It is important for taxpayers to know the IRS:

Never asks for credit card, debit card or prepaid card information over the telephone.

Never insists that taxpayers use a specific payment method to pay tax obligations

Never requests immediate payment over the telephone and will not take enforcement action immediately following a phone conversation. Taxpayers usually receive prior notification of IRS enforcement action involving IRS tax liens or levies. 

If you get a call from someone claiming to be with the IRS asking for a payment, here’s what to do:

If you owe federal taxes, or think you might owe taxes, hang up and call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS workers can help you with your payment questions.

If you don’t owe taxes, call and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484.

You can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at FTC.gov. Add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments in your complaint.

Be alert for phone and email scams that use the IRS name. The IRS will never request personal or financial information by email, texting or any social media.

The IRS also does not ask for PINs, passwords or similar confidential access information for credit card, bank or other financial accounts. Recipients should not open any attachments or click on any links contained in the message. Instead, forward the email to [email protected] .

Wake Forest Police are also warning residents to be aware of tax-related identity theft.

Tax return identity theft happens when thieves use your Social Security Number to file tax returns and claim a large refund. You discover the fraud when you file your own tax return and the Internal Revenue Service says they’ve already processed a return using your name and number.

The North Carolina Attorney General’s Office says avoiding tax return ID theft starts by protecting your confidential information. Don’t carry your Social Security Number (SSN) in your wallet or purse unless you need it with you for an appointment that day. Don’t leave your SSN where someone can steal it, and shred unneeded documents that include it.

If you receive a letter from the IRS stating that they already processed your return, contact their Identity Protection Specialized Unit immediately at 1-800-908-4490. In most cases, taxpayers are able to work with the IRS to straighten out their tax returns and, eventually, get their refund.

If you believe you are a victim of these types of crime, call the Wake Forest Police Department at 919-554-6150.