Suggestions issued to protect identity

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By Meg Chevalier, a senior tax specialist in the Providence office of the Internal Revenue Service

By Meg Chevalier, a senior tax specialist in the Providence office of the Internal Revenue Service

Tax scams take many different forms. Recently, the most common scams are phone calls and e-mails from thieves pretending to be from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). They use the IRS name, logo or a fake Web site to try to steal your money. They may try to steal your identity, too. Here are several tips to help you avoid being a victim of tax scams. The real IRS will not:

• Initiate contact with you by phone, e-mail, text or social media to ask for your personal or financial information.

• Call you and demand immediate payment. The IRS will not call about taxes you owe without first mailing you a bill.

• Require that you pay your taxes a certain way. For example, telling you to pay with a prepaid debit card.

Be wary if you get a phone call from someone who claims to be from the IRS and demands that you pay immediately. Here are some steps you can take to avoid and stop scams. If you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to think that you do:

• Contact the treasury inspector general for tax administration. Use “TIGTA impersonation scam” in the search box on the IRS.gov web page to report it.

• You should also report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the “FTC complaint assistant” on FTC.gov. Please add “IRS telephone scam” to the comments of your report.

If you think you may owe taxes:

• Ask for a call back number and an employee badge number.

• Call the IRS at (800) 829-1040. IRS employees can help you.

In most cases, IRS phishing scams are unsolicited, bogus e-mails that claim to come from the IRS. They often contain fake refunds, phony tax bills or threats of an audit. Some e-mails link to sham Web sites that look real. The scammers’ goal is to lure victims to give up their personal and financial information. If they get what they’re after, they use it to steal a victim’s money and identity. If you get a ‘phishing’ e-mail, the IRS offers this advice:

• Don’t reply to the message.

• Don’t give out your personal or financial information.

• Forward the e-mail to phishing@irs.gov. Then delete it.

• Don’t open any attachments or click on any links. They may have malicious coding that will infect your computer.

Stay alert to scams that use the IRS as a lure. More information on how to report phishing or phone scams is available on IRS.gov.

By Meg Chevalier, a senior tax specialist in the Providence office of the Internal Revenue Service. To contact or ask her a question, e-mail miguelina.y.chevalier@irs.gov.

Comments

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