The Latest Tax & New IRS Scams Attacking US

By Hector E. Cisneros
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They say that the only sure things in life are death and taxes. Well, I‘m here to add a new one to this list, tax scams! Every year starting around January the scam artists ratchet up their scam machines and start grilling the elderly, desperate and greedy who are naive enough to believe what these conmen are selling. Every year they seem to get better at their schemes, so this year I thought I would give our readers a heads up on the latest and scariest Tax and IRS scams being perpetrated on the US population. So, sharpen your pencils tax preparers and learn about the latest Tax and IRS scams lurking on the World Wide Web.
Phone Scams: Now, the first scam I am going to cover is not exclusive to the internet. In fact, it takes place mainly via the telephone and cellphone networks. However, since many now use voice over IP phone systems, these calls are taking place on the internet as well.  I had an up close and personal experience with this scam recently. I received a call on my Google Voice line that was very suspicious. Google Voice is an internet voice line that forwards calls to my other lines as a follow me find me service. Here is what the caller said in a very robotic voice (this is the actual text message sent to me from Google voice).
This is Marcus Brown and I am calling from fraud investigation department of IRS.  The matter at hand is extremely time sensitive and urgent as after audit we found that there was a fraud and misconduct on your tax return which indicates you are hiding assets from the federal government. This needs to be rectified immediately. So, do return the call as soon as you receive the message.  The number is 855-512-2378 again 855-512-2378. Thank you. Goodbye.”

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I did a reverse lookup on the phone number they left, and it yielded an IP address originating in China! China? Why would the IRS be contacting me from China! These calls persisted for multiple days, and they left three messages in all. Needless to say, these criminals are persistent, and this may be another reason why someone would fall prey to this type of scam. If you call and contact them, their pitch may sound convincing and sway or scare someone into coughing up financial information.

In an article from AOL Finance, I found statistics for this type of scam. This type of scam has been growing in numbers since 2013, and the latest stats listed by the IRS show that in 2014, 55,000 people complained about receiving these types of calls. To make matters worse over 5000 people fell for this type of scam to the tune of 26.5 million dollars. Other articles I read also rated it as either the number one or two scams for 2017.

The good news is that the IRS does not call individuals or businesses unless they have already been in contact with you via snail mail. In an article from the Motley Fool called; 3 Tax Scams to Watch out for in 2017, they provide these five things that the IRS will never do:


  1. Call to demand immediate payment or call at all without first mailing you a bill.
  2. Demand that you pay taxes without an opportunity to appeal or question the amount owed.
  3. Require a specific payment method.
  4. Ask for a credit/debit card number over the phone.
  5. Threaten to have you arrested for not paying

Phishing: The most common type of scam on the internet often involves Phishing. These types of scams are not new, but they are ever increasing in quality and sophistication, making it harder for the average computer user to distinguish a phishing email from a legitimate communication. Many, if not most, of these scams, start by the criminals gathering information from social media sites. Some come from hacked email lists obtained from the many internet business breaches that have made headlines in the last few years.  
Courtesy of  Wikimedia Commons
These scams always ramp up during the holidays but they also move up during the tax preparation season to take advantage of those not paying close attention to where their emails are coming from. Just for your information, the IRS never sends out emails soliciting information from taxpayers.  If you get one of these emails, you can forward it to the IRS by sending it to  phishing@irs.gov. By no means answer this email or click on any links listed in it. Delete it immediately after forwarding it to the IRS. Check out our article that discusses many types of Phishing schemes by reading: The Grinch Goes Digital - This covers 12 ways online scammers can steal from you this Christmas, also read, with The Endless Scams of Christmas (and beyond) and The Byte Before Christmas. These three-articles not only cover dozens of phishing scams, but they also provide many ways to thwart them.

Identity Theft: An interesting article about ID theft can be found by reading;  “A Brief History of Identity
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Theft.”
Here I found out that ID theft has been on the rise every year since the influx of Illegal immigration in 1965 that prompted the creation of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The creation and widespread use of credit cards accelerated this type of theft because there was now an easier way to perpetrate ID theft.  ID theft is directly related to phishing schemes in most instances. This is how hackers and other cybercriminals often gain access to your social security number and ultimately your identity. However, don’t rule out old fashion dumpster diving and trash can scavenging. Criminals still use this avenue to gain access to information that ultimately leads them to deceive you and to steal your identity. In other articles, I have recommended that everyone should have some form of ID protection insurance. Many insurance companies offer them today. I also personally recommend Life Lock as it is one of the more comprehensive ID protection products on the market.
Fake Charities: During tax time, many taxpayers look to contribute to their favorite charities because
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they would rather give to a charity than give that money to Uncle Sam in taxes. I know many now provide online donations because many charities are working hard to make it easier to donate. Cyber criminals are aware of this as well. Many have raised the bar to enhance the look and feel of their fake charity websites and phishing schemes to fleece the giving public of their charitable donations. Be wary of any solicitation emails you receive from professed charitable organizations. Vet them thoroughly.  Call their office to verify websites and procedures. We wrote about this in our article called:
In Search of Digital Donations some time back. Make sure you check the IRS’s charitable organization Non-Profit Exemption List before you make any donations online.

Return Preparer Fraud: Most of the tax preparers out there are honest professionals working hard to
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get you the best tax return possible. However, there are criminals who use this profession as a disguise to commit fraud and steal your money. Many of these criminals set up shop and advertise the best return for your money or proclaim that they have discovered new tax loopholes that most other preparers haven’t heard of yet. They usually ask for a higher fee or worse use this scheme to acquire your financial and identity information to steal your money and your identity. In some cases, they sell your identity after they close up shop and move on. Make sure you check out the article on IRS.gov called:
IRS “Dirty Dozen” Series of Tax Scams for 2017 Includes Return Preparer Fraud; Choose Reputable Return Preparers. It contains a checklist to help choose an honest and professional Tax Preparer.
On our notes page, I have included a long list of research articles to help our readers learn as much as possible about tax and IRS scams. Here is my short list of third party articles to help you get started.

We have written a lot about various types of scams, including phone, phishing, website, social media and other cybercrimes. To make life easier for you, I have provided a list of our best articles covering this subject. Make sure you check them out. It could help you keep hackers and other cyber criminals at bay.

Working the Web’s Short List of Internet Scam Articles
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Avoid being scammed by cyber criminals by following the suggestions and implementing the safeguards listed in this article and the other articles provided here. Don’t become a victim of cybercrime. Cyber fraud is the number one type of crime committed in the US today. You can protect your identity and financial security, but it requires due diligence and vigilance. Take the responsibility to make sure you don’t become a victim. Begin by learning everything you can. Reading this article is a great start.

That’s my opinion; I look forward to reading yours.

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In this article, I have discussed five very prominent tax and IRS scams perpetrated on the US public today. I have included the IRS phone scam as it has escalated in recent times along with information on Phishing, Identity theft, charity scams and tax preparer fraud as well. Many links are provided to help the reader gain a comprehensive understanding of these tax and IRS scams as well as links to articles that provide methods to help prevent these scams and keep the reader from becoming a victim.

If you feel your business could use some help with its marketing, contact us at 904-410-2091. You can also fill out the form in the sidebar of this blog; we will provide a free marketing analysis to help you get better results. If you found this article useful, please share it with friends, family, and co-workers. You can find other articles on our blog by typing in “Hacking, Phishing, cybercrime or internet security” in the search box at the top of this blog. Also, check out the “Blog Talk Radio, Internet, podcast, that goes with this article ” and the Show Note Page, it has, even more, links for you to check out.  If you have a useful comment or opinion related to this article, leave it in the comment section of this blog.  Also, don’t forget to plus us, on Google+ and share us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.


Hector Cisneros is COO and Director of Social Media Marketing at Working the Web to Win, an award-winning Internet marketing company based in Jacksonville, Florida.  He is also co-host of the weekly Internet radio show, "Working the Web to Win" on BlogTalkRadio.com, which airs every Tuesday at 4 p.m. Eastern. Hector is a syndicated writer and published author of “60 Seconds to Success.” 


2 comments:

  1. WWW really means Wild Wild West. There are more online scams than you realize. Don't find out the hard way by becoming a victim.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Very useful, and well written as always Hector. I will share this among my clients.

    ReplyDelete