February 22nd, 2022
Credit unions are always looking for a way to provide educational information to their members to help them remain safe while online. Our Aux Compliance Team would like to share this critical article from the IRS with you, which explains exactly how the IRS communicates (and perhaps more importantly, how they don’t) with taxpayers.
Unfortunately scammers are quick to adapt and take advantage of the tumultuous environment we live in. There has been a significant uptick of digital identity fraud since the beginning of the pandemic, including stimulus checks, unemployment, student loan deferments, and changes to tax filings. Digital fraud attempts increased 46% globally in the past year, CUTimes reports and identity theft was the #1 most reported category, direct from the FTC.
When members are confused and anxious, they are more likely to fall for a scam. Even seasoned financial professionals fall for scams. And don’t think it’s just your elderly members. “Young people are at far greater risk of being scammed than seniors. We have found, year after year, that the group most susceptible to scams is 18–24-year-olds. In 2020, 56.6% of them who were exposed to a scam ended up losing money. By contrast, fewer than one-third (31.9%) of those 65-plus who were exposed lost money,” reports WSJ.
Take a look at the article below and share with your membership. There is no such thing as overcommunicating when it comes to fraud.
Taxpayer can protect themselves from scammers by knowing how the IRS communicates
If the IRS does call a taxpayer, it should not be a surprise because the agency will generally send a notice or letter first. Understanding how the IRS communicates can help taxpayers protect themselves from scammers who pretend to be from the IRS with the goal of stealing personal information.
Here are some facts about how the IRS communicates with taxpayers:
- The IRS doesn’t normally initiate contact with taxpayers by email. Do not reply to an email from someone who claims to be from the IRS because the IRS email address could be spoofed or fake. Emails from IRS employees will end in irs.gov.
- The agency does not send text messages or contact people through social media. Fraudsters will impersonate legitimate government agents and agencies on social media and try to initiate contact with taxpayers.
- When the IRS needs to contact a taxpayer, the first contact is normally by letter delivered by the U.S. Postal Service. Debt relief firms send unsolicited tax debt relief offers through the mail. Fraudsters will often claim they already notified the taxpayer by U.S. mail.
- Depending on the situation, IRS employees may first call or visit with a taxpayer. In some instances, the IRS sends a letter or written notice to a taxpayer in advance, but not always. Taxpayers can search IRS notices by visiting Understanding Your IRS Notice or Letter. However, not all IRS notices are searchable on that site and just because someone references an IRS notice in email, phone call, text, or social media, does not mean the request is legitimate.
- IRS revenue agents or tax compliance officers may call a taxpayer or tax professional after mailing a notice to confirm an appointment or to discuss items for a scheduled audit. The IRS encourages taxpayers to review, How to Know it’s Really the IRS Calling or Knocking on Your Door: Collection.
- Private debt collectors can call taxpayers for the collection of certain outstanding inactive tax liabilities, but only after the taxpayer and their representative have received written notice. Private debt collection should not be confused with debt relief firms who will call, send lien notices via U.S. mail, or email taxpayers with debt relief offers. Taxpayers should contact the IRS regarding filing back taxes properly.
- IRS revenue officers and agents routinely make unannounced visits to a taxpayer’s home or place of business to discuss taxes owed, delinquent tax returns or a business falling behind on payroll tax deposits. IRS revenue officers will request payment of taxes owed by the taxpayer. However, taxpayers should remember that payment will never be requested to a source other than the U.S. Treasury.
- When visited by someone from the IRS, the taxpayers should always ask for credentials. IRS representatives can always provide two forms of official credentials: a pocket commission and a Personal Identity Verification Credential.
Share this tip on social media — #IRSTaxTip: Important additional guidance for employers claiming the employee retention credit. https://go.usa.gov/xFATS