No, It's Not the IRS Calling
Provided by Christina Bush, CES, CAS, CMFC
Wealth Manager/Certified Estate and Trust Specialist
Watch out for crooks impersonating I.R.S. agents and financial industry professionals.
Do you know how the Internal Revenue Service contacts taxpayers to resolve a problem? The first step is almost always to send a letter through the U.S. Postal Service to the taxpayer.1
It is very rare for the I.R.S. to make the first contact through a call or a personal visit. This happens in two circumstances: when taxes are notably delinquent or overdue or when the agency feels an audit or criminal investigation is necessary. Furthermore, the I.R.S. does not send initial requests for taxpayer information via email or social media.1
Now that you know all of this, you should also know about some of the phone scams being perpetrated by criminals claiming to be the I.R.S. (or representatives of investment firms).
Scam #1: “You owe back taxes. Pay them immediately, or you will be arrested.” Here, someone calls you posing as an I.R.S. agent, claiming that you owe thousands of dollars in federal taxes. If the caller does not reach you in person, a voice mail message conveys the same threat, urging you to call back quickly.1
Can this terrible (fake) problem be solved? Yes, perhaps with the help of your Social Security number. Or, maybe with some specific information about your checking account, maybe even your online banking password. Or, they may tell you that this will all go away if you wire the money to an account or buy a pre-paid debit card. These are all efforts to steal your money.
This is over-the-phone extortion, plain and simple. The demand for immediate payment gives it away. The I.R.S. does not call up taxpayers and threaten them with arrest if they cannot pay back taxes by midnight. The preferred method of notification is to send a bill, with instructions to pay the amount owed to the U.S. Treasury (never some third party).1
Sometimes the phone number on your caller I.D. may appear to be legitimate because more sophisticated crooks have found ways to manipulate caller I.D. systems. Asking for a callback number is not enough. The crook may readily supply you with a number to call, and when you dial it someone may pick up immediately and claim to be a representative of the I.R.S., but it’s likely a co-conspirator – someone else assisting in the scam. For reference, the I.R.S. tax help line for individuals is 1-800-829-1040. Another telltale sign; if you ever call the real I.R.S., you probably wouldn’t speak to a live person so quickly – hold times can be long.1
Scam #2: “This is a special offer to help seniors manage their investments.” Yes, a special offer to become your investment advisor, made by a total stranger over the phone. Of course, this offer of help is under the condition that you provide your user I.D. and password for your brokerage account or your IRA.2
No matter how polite and sweet the caller seems, this is criminal activity. Licensed financial services industry professionals do not randomly call senior citizens and ask them for financial account information and passwords – unless they want to go to jail or end their careers.
Scam #3: “I made a terrible mistake; you must help me.” In this scam, a caller politely informs you that the U.S. government is issuing supplemental Social Security payments to seniors next year. Do you have a bank account? You could enroll in this program by providing your account information and your Social Security number.
Oh no, wait! The caller now tells you that they’ve made a huge mistake while inputting your account information – and your account was accidentally credited with a full payment even though you were not enrolled. The distraught caller will now attempt to convince you that they will lose their job unless you send over an amount equal to the lump sum they claim was mistakenly deposited. If you refuse, the caller may have a conversation with a “boss” who demands that money be withdrawn from your account.
Scam #4: “The I.R.S. accidentally gave you a refund.” In this sophisticated double-cross, thieves steal your data, then file a phony federal tax return with your information and deposit a false refund in your bank account. Then, they attempt to convince you to pay them the money, claiming they are debt collectors working for the I.R.S. or I.R.S. agents.
Should anyone call and try to trap you with one of these scams, hang up. Next, report the caller ID and/or callback number to the I.R.S. at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “I.R.S. Phone Scam.” You can also notify the Department of the Treasury (treasury.gov) and the Federal Trade Commission (ftccomplaintassistant.gov); list “I.R.S. Telephone Scam” in the notes. Regarding scam #4, if you really do receive an erroneous federal (or state) tax refund, you should notify your tax professional about it as soon as you can and arrange its return. You may also need to close the involved bank account if you sense you have been victimized.1,3
This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note - investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.
Get in Touch
Have a Question?
CB Wealth Advisory - Private Wealth Management
Securities offered through Securities America, Inc., Member FINRA.org and SIPC.org; Christina Bush, Registered Representative. Advisory services offered through Cooper McManus, an SEC Registered Investment Advisory firm; Christina Bush, Investment Advisor Representative. CB Wealth Advisory, Securities America and Cooper McManus are separate entities.
This site is published for residents of the United States and is for informational purposes only and does not constitute an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy any security or product that may be referenced herein. Persons mentioned on this website may only offer services and transact business and/or respond to inquiries in states or jurisdictions in which they have been properly registered or are exempt from registration. Not all products and services referenced on this site are available in every state, jurisdiction or from every person listed. Third party posts found on this profile do not reflect the views of Securities America and have not been reviewed by Securities America as to accuracy or completeness.
Christina Bush, licensed insurance agent: CA Insurance license #0B48734 - FL Insurance license #W050514 - NC Insurance license #2620839 - WA Insurance license # 787335
FINRA BROKER CHECK FINRA.org
A prospectus offer is required by SEC Rule 482(b)(1) that advises an investor to consider the investment objectives, risks and charges and expenses of an investment company carefully before investing; explains that the prospectus, and, if available, the summary prospectus contains this and other information about the investment company; identifies a source from which an investor may obtain a prospectus and, if available, a summary prospectus; and states that the prospectus and, if available, the summary prospectus should be read carefully before investing.
IMPORTANT CONSUMER INFORMATION
For information concerning the licensing status or disciplinary history of a BD, IA, BD agent, or IA rep, a consumer should contact his or her state securities law administrator.
Securities in accounts are carried by National Financial Services, LLC, member NYSE/SIPC, a Fidelity Investment Company, which is protected by the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) up to $500,000 (including cash claims limited to $100,000). NFS has arranged for additional insurance protection for cash and securities to supplement its' SIPC coverage. This additional protection covers total account net equity in excess of the $500,000/coverage provided by SIPC. This protection does not cover losses associated with investing.
For detailed information about SIPC, please visit SIPC.org.
All Photos By Christina Bush
Copyright 2019 by Christina Bush/CB Wealth Advisory