Well, I am getting tired of writing about these pfishing scams but the info needs to get out as new scams arise.
We get calls here all the time regarding phone calls from scumbags professing to be from the IRS and demanding immediate payment, usually accompanied by a threat of some sorts. The scams have progressively become more sophisticated with people that speak proper English and even with official caller ID’s that match the message. They are also becoming much more aggressive in collection efforts, often threatening with jail time and telling people “police are on the way”.
When our clients receive such a call, we tell them that the IRS does not make a first contact by phone and they do not use email. Their first contact with you is a letter; they do not call out of the blue and again, they do not use email or other internet channels. People receive letters for a variety of reasons. For instance, you may receive a letter asking for confirmation or substantiation of an item on a previously filed tax return, such as an 886A or a demand for payment, such as a CP501.
Each of these letters has an explanation as to the purpose of the letter and instructions on how to respond. If you receive one of these, follow the instructions or ask your tax preparer for assistance.
That advice is still good. If someone calls saying they are from the IRS you should probably hang up. But if you want to check them out, get their name, badge number, phone number and record the caller ID. Then you can find instructions on how to verify a phone call at https://www.irs.gov/uac/report-phishing, Never give out information in response to an email and never open an attachment in you are unsure of the sender.
But now the scammers are sending letters.
The latest scam is a fake tax notice (a CP2000) asking for an immediate payment by check made out to the I.R.S and mailed to the “Austin Processing Center” at a PO Box. The form looks official but their are subtle differences between the fake form and an actual CP2000, which can be viewed at the IRS website. Apparently this is working quite well so there will probably be any number of knockoffs.
Should you receive one of these, you can go to the web page https://www.irs.gov/individuals/understanding-your-cp2000-notice or contact your tax preparer and ask them to help you check it out. We do this for our clients and in most cases, we do not charge anything.
Note that a valid IRS letter should be responded to in a timely manner but never send money without verifying the validity of the request and understand that even a valid request from the actual IRS is often based on incorrect or missing information. Such erroneous requests are usually cleared up quickly with a letter or a phone call.
DON’T BE A VICTIM.