IRS Warns of New Tax Scams

| 1/10/2019
The IRS recently released a warning for taxpayers and tax professionals about an increase in phishing emails involving payroll direct deposit and wire transfer scams. These emails generally are from someone impersonating a company employee, often an executive, and are sent to payroll or human resource personnel asking them to change the direct deposit information to a bank account controlled by the thief. The scam often is discovered quickly but generally not before one or two payroll deposits are lost. In another version of the scam, emails from someone impersonating a company executive are sent to the employee responsible for wire transfers requesting a transfer be made into a specific account controlled by the scammer.

Another phishing tactic the IRS highlighted is a Form W-2, “Wage and Tax Statement,” scam, in which a thief impersonating a person in authority asks for a list of Form W-2s for all of the organization’s employees. This allows the thief to quickly file fraudulent tax returns for refunds.

Taxpayers should vigilantly monitor for and not respond to unusual emails requesting sensitive employee or customer data. General nontax-related email scams can be forwarded to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), which is monitored by the FBI. Tax-related phishing emails can be sent to [email protected]. Employers that fall victim to the Form W-2 scam should report the crime to [email protected] and follow the guidance provided by the IRS.

The IRS also continues to get reports of thieves impersonating employees from IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers in order to trick taxpayers into paying nonexistent tax bills. The perpetrators claim to be calling from a local IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center and are able to display a valid IRS phone number on the taxpayer’s caller ID. If the taxpayer questions the demand for payment, he or she is directed to look up the local center and verify the number. The criminal then hangs up and calls back shortly, generally demanding payment on a debit card.

IRS employees at Taxpayer Assistance Centers do not make calls to taxpayers demanding payment of overdue tax bills. The IRS has reminded taxpayers that it typically initiates most contact with taxpayers through regular mail. Although limited circumstances exist in which the IRS might call or come to a home or business and demand payment, this usually is preceded by multiple letters from the IRS. The IRS also does not demand use of a specific payment method and will not ask for debit or credit card numbers over the phone. Taxpayers can report IRS phone scams via email to [email protected] with the subject “IRS Phone Scam.”

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