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NCUA Consumer Report: Frauds, Scams and Cyberthreats - Part I

Beware of phone scams this tax-filing season, IRS warns

January 23, 2015

IRS has compiled a list of top scams – including phone scams – for taxpayers to look out for during the 2015 tax-filing season that credit unions may want to share with their members.

IRS is working to raise consumer awareness on tax scams, so it’s pushing out its “Dirty Dozen” list of scams for the 2015 filing season over the next 12 business days. It says phone scams top the list and continue to be a serious threat.

The IRS statement noted that it has seen a surge of phone scams in recent months where criminals impersonate an IRS agent and threaten arrest and license revocation, among other things. “If someone calls unexpectedly claiming to be from the IRS with aggressive threats if you don’t pay immediately, it’s a scam artist calling,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen in the statement. “The first IRS contact with taxpayers is usually through the mail. Taxpayers have rights, and this is not how we do business.”

The IRS sends out its “Dirty Dozen” list annually, which highlights various common scams taxpayers may encounter throughout the year and especially during tax-filing season. The agency topped its list with phone scams this year because it says they “have been a persistent and pervasive problem for many taxpayers for many months.”

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration has received reports of about 290,000 contacts since October 2013 and has become aware of nearly 3,000 victims who have collectively paid more than $14 million as a result of phone scams, the IRS noted in its statement.

The IRS reminds taxpayers that it will never call to demand immediate payment, demand to be paid with no time left to ask questions or appeal, require a specific payment method or ask for credit or debit card information over the phone.