BBB Warns Consumers about Pervasive Income Tax Fraud

Internal Revenue Service says Tax-Related Scams Do Not Go Away at End of Tax Season

Despite the passing of the 2013 income tax return filing deadline, Better Business Bureau is warning consumers to keep their guard up.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has issued a strong warning on its website about a nationwide increase in the prevalence of “sophisticated and aggressive” telephone scams.

Victims may be told that they are entitled to substantial refunds or that they owe money to the IRS, and must pay immediately.  The aim of the criminals is to get their victims to divulge personal information, or send money by an unsecured payment method.

According to the IRS, the scammers have been posing as IRS employees in telephone calls, and threatening potential victims with arrest, revocation of their driver’s licenses and having their utilities cut off.  Immigrants have complained they were threatened with deportation.

Income tax fraud criminals also use email to defraud consumers with the goal of getting victims to click on a link to print a “shipping label.”  This can download malicious software or lead to a lookalike website that requests personal information.

Hallmarks of these schemes include the spoofing of telephone numbers to appear as if the IRS is calling, the use of common names, surnames and badge numbers to identify themselves.  Complicating matters, the scammers may have obtained the last four digits of a potential victim’s Social Security number, and use that information to lend legitimacy to their scam, and frighten victims into action.

BBB reminds consumers that government agencies and financial institutions will never ask for personal information or account numbers over the telephone or by email.  If you receive such correspondence, forward it to phishing@irs.gov.

For more information on this and related income tax fraud, visit www.irs.gov, and type the word “scam” in the search box.

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About Howard Schwartz

Howard Schwartz, Executive Communications Director of Connecticut Better Business Bureau, is an award-winning former correspondent and anchorman, and media consultant for Fortune 500 companies. He specializes in issues involving consumers and the marketplace.