Tax Season Is Over … But You Can Still Get Scammed

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It’s the scam that just keeps going, and even though tax season’s over, it shows no signs of stopping. What is it, you ask? The Internal Revenue Service telephone tax scam and, if you’re not careful, you could become its next victim.

Here’s how it works: A scammer calls, claiming to be an IRS agent or from another agency, such as a state motor vehicle registry, and says you owe taxes and better pay fast — or face the consequences.

According to CBS, which covered the scam this week, callers can “spoof” caller ID services to make it look like they’re calling from a real agency. They will also likely do their homework on victims (typically online) to make it seem like they know to whom they’re speaking. Worse still, they’ll use official-sounding IRS titles and badge numbers to identify themselves.

The scammer will demand payment via an online service or debit card, telling victims to hit the bank or convenience store. More intrepid scammers have even gone so far as to copy IRS letterheads and contact victims via snail mail or email. They’ll provide a real IRS address, but ask for the payment to be sent to the agency.

How to Handle It 

So what should you do if you find yourself on the receiving end of one these calls? Hang up. The IRS will never contact you by phone, and if there’s an issue with your taxes — say, failing to complete a 1099-C form or claiming weird deductions — you’ll be sure to hear about it the old-fashioned way, by snail mail.

If you think you owe taxes, or don’t know where you stand, your best bet is to go straight to the source by contacting the IRS directly. And rest assured, if you owe money but can’t afford to pay, the IRS will be willing to work out an installment agreement.

Don’t forget, your taxes can affect your credit score if you’re not careful. If you’re worried about how unpaid taxes could already be impacting your credit, you can get your two free credit scores, which are updated monthly, on Credit.com. You can also check your free annual credit reports for tax liens as well, which will signal a real tax problem.

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