Jefferson City, Mo. — Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley reminds Missouri taxpayers to be wary of telephone and email scams throughout tax season. In past years, phone scammers have acted like IRS agents in order to steal money.
“During tax season, my Office sees a rise in complaints from consumers regarding phone calls that threaten consumers with arrest and other consequences for allegedly failing to pay a tax bill,” Hawley said. “Be alert this tax season.”
The scams usually work as follows: a con artist makes unsolicited calls claiming to be an IRS agent and demands that the victim pay a tax bill. They try to get the victim to pay cash, usually through a wire transfer or a prepaid debit or gift card. The scammer will often make substantial threats, such as the threat of arrest or conviction, as means of intimidating a victim into paying. Scammers often alter caller ID numbers to make it look like the IRS or another government agency is calling.
Tax identity theft also increases during tax season. This occurs when an identity thief uses a taxpayer’s stolen identity to file a fraudulent return and claims the refund in the consumer’s name.
Attorney General Hawley offers the following tips and reminders to avoid IRS phone scams and tax identity theft.
The IRS will NEVER:
- Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method – or ask for cash. Generally, the IRS will mail a bill to any taxpayer who owes taxes.
- Threaten to immediately bring in the police or other law enforcement to have the taxpayer arrested for not paying.
- Demand that the tax be paid without giving taxpayers the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.
- Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
Signs that you may be a victim of tax fraud identity theft include:
- Receiving a notice or letter stating that:
- More than one tax return was filed using your Social Security number;
- You owe additional tax
- You have a tax refund offset of which you were not aware;
- The IRS or DOR records indicate that you received wages from an employer unknown to you;
- The IRS or DOR questions your claim information pertaining to your dependents;
- Learning that collection actions were taken against you for a year you did not file a tax return or did not owe money;
- Being unable to process your return when using electronic software.
To avoid becoming a victim of tax identity theft:
- File your taxes as early as you are able.
- Never give out personal information unless you know who specifically is requesting it.
- Protect your personal information by using firewalls and anti-spam and virus protection software, updating passwords on bank and tax preparation accounts, and refusing to share personal information with unsolicited callers or authors of unsolicited emails.
For more information concerning identity theft and tax fraud identity theft visit the Missouri Attorney General’s website at www.ago.mo.gov.