All posts by bfooden

IRS information for taxpayers on tax scams – know how to protect yourself and your identity.

Tax Scams/Consumer Alerts

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! In recent years, thousands of people have lost millions of dollars and their personal information to tax scams and fake IRS communication. This page looks at the scams affecting individuals, businesses, and tax professionals and what do if you if you spot a tax  scam.

REMEMBER: The IRS doesn’t initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or social media channels to request personal or financial information.  In addition, IRS does not threaten taxpayers with lawsuits, imprisonment or other enforcement action.  Being able to recognize these tell-tale signs of a phishing or tax scam could save you from becoming a victim.

National Tax Security Awareness Week

The week (Dec. 5-9, 2016) featured a series of consumer warnings and tips released daily and featured on the Security Summit web page and a one-page Publication 4524, Security Awareness for Taxpayers.

See also:

  • National Tax Security Week Concludes; IRS, Security Summit Partners Continues Work to Protect Taxpayers in 2017 (IR-2016-166)
  • IRS Warns Taxpayers of Numerous Tax Scams Nationwide; Provides Summary of Most Recent Schemes (IR-2016-164)
  • Protect Your Clients: Security Summit Partners Warn Tax Pros of Cybercriminals, Launch New Awareness Tips (IR-2016-163)
  • IRS, Security Summit Partners Remind Taxpayers to Recognize Phishing Scams (IR-2016-160)
  • IRS, Security Summit Partners, Remind Taxpayers to Protect Themselves Online (IR-2016-158).
  • IRS and its Security Summit partners announce “National Tax Security Awareness Week.” (IR-2016-156).

Taxes. Security. Together. We all have a role to play in protecting your data

IRS Security Awareness Tips

Information for Taxpayers

IRS-Impersonation Telephone Scams

An aggressive and sophisticated phone scam targeting taxpayers, including recent immigrants, has been making the rounds throughout the country. Callers claim to be employees of the IRS, but are not. These con artists can sound convincing when they call. They use fake names and bogus IRS identification badge numbers. They may know a lot about their targets, and they usually alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling.

Victims are told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. If the victim refuses to cooperate, they are then threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license. In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting. Or, victims may be told they have a refund due to try to trick them into sharing private information. If the phone isn’t answered, the scammers often leave an “urgent” callback request.

Note that the IRS will never:

  • Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail you a bill if you owe any taxes.
  • Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
  • Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

Remember: Scammers Change Tactics — Aggressive and threatening phone calls by criminals impersonating IRS agents remain a major threat to taxpayers, but variations of the IRS impersonation scam continue year-round and they tend to peak when scammers find prime opportunities to strike.

Surge in Email, Phishing and Malware Schemes

The IRS saw an approximate 400 percent surge in phishing and malware incidents in the 2016 tax season.

Scam emails are designed to trick taxpayers into thinking these are official communications from the IRS or others in the tax industry, including tax software companies. These phishing schemes can ask taxpayers about a wide range of topics. Emails can seek information related to refunds, filing status, confirming personal information, ordering transcripts and verifying PIN information.

Variations of these scams can be seen via text messages, and the communications are being reported in every section of the country.

When people click on these email links, they are taken to sites designed to imitate an official-looking website, such as IRS.gov. The sites ask for Social Security numbers and other personal information, which could be used to help file false tax returns. The sites also may carry malware, which can infect people’s computers and allow criminals to access your files or track your keystrokes to gain information.

For more details, see:

  • IR-2017-03, Security Summit Alert: New Two-Stage E-mail Scheme Targets Tax Professionals
  • IR-2016-28, Consumers Warned of New Surge in IRS Email Schemes during 2016 Tax Season; Tax Industry Also Targeted
  • IR-2016-15, Phishing Remains on the IRS “Dirty Dozen” List of Tax Scams for the 2016 Filing Season

Email Phishing Scam: “Update your IRS e-file”

The IRS is aware of email phishing scams that appear to be from the IRS and include a link to a bogus web site intended to mirror the official IRS web site. These emails contain the direction “you are to update your IRS e-file immediately.” The emails mention USA.gov and IRSgov (without a dot between “IRS” and “gov”), though notably, not IRS.gov (with a dot). Don’t get scammed. These emails are not from the IRS.

What do you do if you get these messages?

  • Do not respond to the email or click on the links.
  • Instead, they should forward the scam emails to the IRS at phishing@irs.gov.

For more information, visit the IRS’s Report Phishing web page.

Remember, the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information.

Tax Refund Scam Artists Posing as Taxpayer Advocacy Panel

According to the Taxpayer Advocacy Panel (TAP), taxpayers are receiving emails that appear to be from TAP about a tax refund. These emails are a phishing scam, where unsolicited emails which seem to come from legitimate organizations — but are really from scammers — try to trick unsuspecting victims into providing personal and financial information. Do not respond or click the links in them. If you receive an email that appears to be from TAP regarding your personal tax information, please forward it to phishing@irs.gov and note that it seems to be a scam email phishing for your information.;

TAP is a volunteer board that advises the IRS on systemic issues affecting taxpayers. It never requests, and does not have access to, any taxpayer’s personal and financial information such as Social Security and PIN numbers or passwords and similar information for credit cards, banks or other financial institutions.

Watch Out for These Recent Tax Scams

IR-2016-123 IRS and its Security Summit partners alert taxpayers to be on guard against fake emails purporting to contain an IRS tax bill related to the Affordable Care Act. Generally, the scam involves an email that includes a fraudulent version of CP2000 notices for tax year 2015 as an attachment.

IR-2016-107 IRS reminds taxpayers against telephone scammers targeting students and parents during the back-to-school season and demanding payments for non-existent taxes, such as the “Federal Student Tax.” If the person does not comply, the scammer becomes aggressive and threatens to report the student to the police to be arrested. As schools around the nation prepare to re-open, it is important for taxpayers to be particularly aware of this scheme going after students and parents.

IR-2016-99 The IRS has seen an increase in “robo-calls” where scammers leave urgent callback requests through the phone telling taxpayers to call back to settle their “tax bill.” These fake calls generally claim to be the last warning before legal action is taken. In the latest trend, IRS impersonators are demanding payments on iTunes and other gift cards. The IRS reminds taxpayers that any request to settle a tax bill by putting money on any form of gift card is a clear indication of a scam.

IR-2016-81 IRS warns taxpayers about bogus phone calls from IRS impersonators demanding payment for a non-existent tax, the “Federal Student Tax.” Scammers try to convince people to wire money immediately to the scammer. If the victim does not fall quickly enough for this fake “federal student tax”, the scammer threatens to report the student to the police.

IR-2016-55 IRS warns taxpayers of a phishing scam targeting Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia residents where the email scammers are citing tax fraud and trying to trick victims into verifying “the last four digits of their social security number” by clicking on a link provided. As a further attempt to trick residents of the Capital region, the email scam even suggests that information from recent data breaches across the nation may be involved.

IR-2016-40 This variation tries to play off the current tax season. Scammers call saying they have your tax return, and they just need to verify a few details to process your return. The scam tries to get you to give up personal information such as a Social Security number or personal financial information, such as bank numbers or credit cards.

IR-2016-34 Payroll and human resources professionals should be aware of an emerging phishing email scheme that purports to be from company executives and requests personal information on employees. The email contains the actual name of the company chief executive officer. In this scam, the “CEO” sends an email to a company payroll office employee and requests a list of employees and financial and personal information including SSNs.

Don’t fall victim to tax scams. Remember — if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. 

Additional IRS scam-related information:

Education is the best way to avoid the pitfalls of these “too good to be true” tax scams. For more information, see:

Information for Tax Professionals

IR-2016-145 IRS Warns Professionals of New e-Services Email Scam

The Internal Revenue Service has issued an urgent alert to tax professionals who use IRS e-services to beware of an email asking them to update their accounts and directing them to a fake website

IR-2016-103, New Phishing Scheme Mimics Software Providers; Targets Tax Professionals

The IRS alert tax professionals to an emerging phishing email scam that pretends to be from tax software providers and tries to trick recipients into clicking on a bogus link. In this email scheme fraudsters use the IRS or other tax issues as a cover to trick people into giving up sensitive information such as passwords, Social Security numbers or credit card numbers or to make unnecessary payments.

IRS Security Awareness Tax Tip 2016-11, Tax Professionals: Monitor Your PTIN for Suspicious Activity

Tax preparers can help protect clients and their businesses from identity theft by checking their PTIN Accounts to ensure the number of returns filed using their identification number matches IRS records. Criminals are increasingly targeting tax professionals, not only to steal client data but also to steal the professionals’ data such as PTINs, EFINs or e-Service passwords. The IRS has teamed up with state tax agencies and the tax industry for a “Protect Your Clients; Protect Yourself” campaign to help increase awareness among tax professionals.

New Tax Scam Targeting Tax Professionals

April 15, 2016 – The IRS warned tax professionals of an emerging scam in which cybercriminals obtain remote control of preparers’ computer systems, complete and file client tax returns and redirect refunds to thieves’ accounts.

Tax professionals should review Publication 4557, Safeguarding Taxpayer Data, A Guide for Your Business, which provides a checklist to help safeguard taxpayer information and enhance office security.

IR-2015-31 – The IRS warns tax preparers to watch out for a bogus email asking tax professionals to update their IRS e-services portal information and Electronic Filing Identification Numbers (EFINs). The links that are provided in the bogus email to access IRS e-services appear to be a phishing scheme designed to capture your username and password. This email was not generated by the IRS e-services program. Disregard this email and do not click on the links provided.


Phony Arguments

No matter how some things are sliced, they’re still baloney. If someone tells you that you don’t have to pay taxes, check out The Truth About Frivolous Tax Arguments. This IRS.gov exclusive addresses some of the more common false legal arguments made by those opposed to compliance with the federal tax laws. Each contention is briefly explained, followed by a discussion of the legal authority that rejects the contention. The second section deals with frivolous arguments encountered in collection due process cases. The final section illustrates penalties imposed on those pursuing frivolous cases.

  • IR-2014-51, IRS Debunks Frivolous Tax Arguments,  includes numerous recently decided cases that demonstrate that the courts continue to regard such arguments as illegitimate.
  • IR-2011-23, IRS Debunks Frivolous Tax Arguments, highlights the issue and possible penalties.
  • IR-2004-41 describes the increasingly strong penalties the courts have imposed from March 2003 to March 2004 on taxpayers who pursued frivolous cases to delay IRS collection actions.
  • IR-2003-28 details penalties the Tax Court imposed from April 2001 until early March 2003 for making frivolous Collection Due Process arguments.

Identity Theft Scams

The IRS has issued several consumer warnings about the fraudulent use of the IRS name or logo by scammers trying to gain access to consumers’ financial information in order to steal their identity and assets. Scammers will use the regular mail, telephone, fax or email to set up their victims. When identity theft takes place over the Internet (email), it is called phishing.

The IRS does not initiate taxpayer communications through email. Unsolicited email claiming to be from the IRS, or from an IRS-related component such as EFTPS, should be reported to the IRS at phishing@irs.gov.

Additionally, clicking on attachments to or links within an unsolicited email claiming to come from the IRS may download a malicious computer virus onto your computer.

Taxes. Security. Together Learn more about how the IRS, representatives of the software industry, tax preparation firms, payroll and tax financial product processors and state tax administrators are working together to combat identity theft and refund fraud.

Learn how to protect your personal information.


Reporting Tax-Related Schemes, Scams, Identity Theft and Fraud

To report the various types of tax-related illegal activities, refer to our chart explaining the types of activity and the appropriate forms or other methods to use.

You may also report instances of IRS-related phishing attempts and fraud to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1-800-366-4484.

Happy New Year – ‘Miserable’ tax season could be worst in years

‘Miserable’ tax season could be worst in years

January 5, 2015: 5:26 AM ET

taxes budget cuts

  • 148
    TOTAL SHARES
  • 32
NEW YORK (CNNMoney)

The upcoming tax season is likely to be the worst in years — for the IRS and potentially for taxpayers.

The reason: The IRS budget keeps getting smaller, and the tax code keeps getting more complicated.

Nina Olson, the national taxpayer advocate, said at a conference recently that she worries it could rank as the worst since 1985, which was regarded as a disaster due to a computer failure, lost returns and delayed refunds.

The budget: Congress has shrunk the IRS budget over the past five years, while at the same time requiring the agency to administer even more complex laws.

The IRS topline budget for 2015 is about 10% less than it was in 2010. But the real drop is actually steeper since the 10% doesn’t account for cost increases that have occurred in the past five years.

During roughly the same period, the number of IRS personnel has fallen by at least 8%. And the amount of money the agency has for staff training has dropped by more than 85%.

Meanwhile, the number of taxpayers has grown by about 7 million people, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen noted at the same conference where Olson spoke.

End result: Come January 20, when the IRS will start accepting returns, there will be less taxpayer service and, Koskinen warned, possibly delayed refunds.

Olson, a watchdog for taxpayers, estimates that 47% of the calls coming into the IRS probably won’t be answered during the filing season. The other 53% of people lucky enough to get through will have to wait an average of 34 minutes to talk to a human being.

Related: How IRS drives taxpayers crazy

Tax preparers calling on behalf of their clients may use a “priority service” line. But it will take them about 52 minutes to talk to someone, Olson said. “So my advice is to bring your knitting while you sit on the phone trying to get through.”

Koskinen said the IRS will do all it can to keep everything running smoothly. But the agency will be hamstrung.

“All we can try to do is maximize the resources available in that January to May time frame to make sure that … we do as well as we can. And ‘as well as we can’ is still going to be miserable,” he said.

But if that misery includes seriously delayed refunds — still a very big if — that’s when average Americans may take note of just how under the gun the IRS is. And they won’t like it.

“If the refund doesn’t come, that’s going to make them angry. This is dysfunction right in your face,” said Christopher Bergin, president and publisher of Tax Analysts.

More work and complexity despite less money: The upcoming tax season will be the first when the IRS will have to administer the premium tax credits and individual mandates under the Affordable Care Act.

Firsts are never perfect, of course. But given how controversial health reform has been, any hiccups in the administration of Obamacare will be broadcast loudly by politicians, the press and frustrated tax professionals.

One concern Olson has: The IRS won’t receive accurate information from the insurance exchanges. “The IRS will probably get blamed for a lot of things that it is not responsible for, and that will not do well on the Hill as we try to make our case for additional funding,” she said.

It will also be the first tax filing season when the IRS will be administering the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act. FATCA is intended to recapture money the United States loses because of unpaid taxes on Americans’ overseas accounts.

Olson worries the process won’t be seamless for U.S. ex-pats trying to reconcile their tax bills given the new reporting requirements. “Who are they going to call? There is no toll-free number to call overseas and you’re certainly not going to sit there for 34 minutes overseas letting the clock tick on a toll call.”

The ramifications of budget cuts amidst a heavier workload goes beyond 2015, Koskinen said. “Any marked deterioration in taxpayer service and enforcement creates a long-term risk for the U.S. tax system, which is based on voluntary compliance.”

In other words, Americans, who have one of the best compliance rates in the world, may not be so willing to oblige if they can’t get the help they need, or if they know they won’t get caught if they cheat.

“If the compliance rate goes down by 1 percent, it costs the government $30 billion a year. That’s almost three times the entire budget of the IRS,” Koskinen noted.

We support the Kimberly Coffey Foundation for Meningitus B Vaccination awareness

www.massapequaobserver.com MASSAPEQUA OBSERVER – NOVEMBER 26 – DECEMBER 2, 2014 7

A Daughter’s Memory, A Mother’s Mission

BY JENNIFER FAUCI

jfauci@antonnews.com

A mother looks forward to every special moment in her daughter’s life; the first day of school, a sweet sixteen, prom, graduation, going off to college, her first job, her wedding day and a first grandchild.

It is a shared bond like no other. Patti Wukovits of Massapequa was a loving mother to her 17-year-old daughter, Kimberly. Heartbreakingly, Wukovits would never have the chance at some of those shared moments, as her time with Kimberly was cut short. In June 2012, Kimberly passed away one week before her senior prom and graduation from East Islip High School from Meningococcal disease (meningococcemia), also known as bacterial meningitis. She was buried in her prom dress.

“Kim’s life was bright beyond belief. She brightened the lives of people around her every single day,” said Wukovits of her beloved daughter. “She was hysterically funny, incredibly smart, silly beyond description, yet so mature for her age and a shining beacon of love and life.”

Kimberly, like most girls her age, was a healthy, young senior in high school. She was confident, beautiful and kind, and had a laugh that was contagious to all around her. Kimberly was registered to begin her studies at Molloy College in September 2012. It was her dream to become a pediatric nurse.

“One day after school, Kim texted me at work saying she was feeling achy and had a temperature of 101,” said Wukovits when her daughter started feeling ill. “After I got home, I checked her and called the pediatrician who asked that I bring her to the office the next morning because it sounded like the flu.”

Kimberly had already been vaccinated for meningitis, specifically against serogroups A, C, W and Y, which health officials recommend preteens and teens receive at the age of 11 to12 with a booster dose at 16, as they are at greater risk for the disease. When Kimberly awoke the next morning, her symptoms got worse.

“In the morning, Kim said she felt like her ankles were bleeding,” said Wukovits who thought this was odd. “I pulled back the sheets and saw the beginning of a purplish looking rash on one of her ankles—tiny purple dots. I’m an oncology nurse and my first thought when I saw this was that she had a blood cancer.”

Within three hours, Kimberly was in the ICU fighting for her life, as her organs began to fail one by one. She was in septic shock and went into cardiac arrest, but was resuscitated.

“Kim would have had to have both arms and legs amputated if she survived, and even though she was diagnosed immediately with meningococcal disease and treated in the emergency room, nine days later she was declared brain dead and we removed her from life support,” said Wukovits, adding that the bacteria was in Kimberly’s bloodstream.

Tragically, Kimberly contracted serogroup B disease, the only vaccine not available in the U.S. at the time. She was vaccinated against all other forms of meningitis.

“My son, Chris, had to get special permission from the Army to leave basic training to come home to say goodbye to his little sister,” said Wukovits, who was planning her wedding to now husband John, the upcoming September. Kimberly was going to be her maid of honor.

“Just two days before Kim showed any symptoms, she had chosen my wedding dress for me,” said Wukovits. “She was so thrilled and was so looking forward to our wedding day and our future together as we made plans to move to Massapequa Park after her high school graduation.”

In June 2012, Wukovits buried her beautiful daughter with the gorgeous smile and bright eyes.“Kimberly would tell her friends ‘Life is too short. Get over it, and move on,’” said Wukovits of her daughter’s spirit. It was then that Wukovits made it her life’s mission to educate families about this potentially deadly bacterial infection, and the importance of preventing it.

On Oct. 29, 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first vaccine for serogroup B. Wukovits is hopeful that this vaccine—and another serogroup B vaccine going through FDA approval—will be recommended broadly.

“The symptoms are high fever, severe headache, joint and muscle pain, sensitivity to bright lights, vomiting and a purplish rash,” said Wukovits who also cautioned that a person does not have to have all of these symptoms and that the disease moves quickly and is often mistaken for flu or other viral illnesses. “It can kill or disable a healthy person within hours, so prevention and knowledge of the symptoms is critical. I really hope that parents and teens will talk to their healthcare providers about the new vaccine.”

Wukovits doesn’t want any parent to go through what she went through, and is hopeful that the new vaccine will help prevent against the disease. In addition to being a registered nurse, Wukovits is one of the National Meningitis Association’s Moms on Meningitis (M.O.M.s), and also serves on the board of Nurses Who Vaccinate. She and her husband have established “The Kimberly Coffey Foundation” in honor of Kimberly’s memory to raise awareness of meningococcal disease.

“2015 will be the third year that we will be offering ‘The Kimberly A. Coffey Memorial Nursing Scholarship’ at East Islip High School for students interested in a nursing career,” said Wukovits, who added that one of her requirements for the applicants is that they must provide proof of meningococcal vaccination and the booster if they are due for it. “The high school dedicates one week to Kimberly’s memory by hosting Meningitis Awareness Week. Last year I spoke with every junior and senior in their health classes; they weren’t even aware of the consequences of this disease or its symptoms. That is exactly why I’m doing what I’m doing to raise awareness.”

Wukovits also went to Albany and met with high level officials in the Department of Health and the Governor’s Executive Chamber. The purpose of the meeting was to further advance the New York State Meningococcal Vaccine Bill, which would require all sixth and eleventh graders to be vaccinated for meningococcal disease.

“Contrary to what many people assume, New York State does not require meningococcal vaccination at any age or prior to entering college,” said Wukovits. “The passing of this bill would be such a tremendous step in preventing other families from living with the pain of losing a child.”

Wukovits is certain that Kimberly is smiling down upon her family, as they work in her honor to spread awareness.

“I am sure that if this had happened to one of her friends or family, she would be doing exactly what I am doing. I want to be Kim’s voice and continue herlegacy,” said Wukovits.

For more information on meningococcal disease, please visit the National Meningitis Association’s website at www.nmaus.org.

Donations in support of The Kimberly Coffey Foundation and the Kimberly A. Coffey Memorial Nursing Scholarship can be addressed to The Kimberly Coffey Foundation, P.O. Box 344, Massapequa Park, NY 11762.

 

SCAM ALERT – Phone callers posing as IRS

Scam Phone Calls Continue; IRS Identifies Five Easy Ways to Spot Suspicious Calls

Español

IR-2014-84

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service issued a consumer alert today providing taxpayers with additional tips to protect themselves from telephone scam artists calling and pretending to be with the IRS.

These callers may demand money or may say you have a refund due and try to trick you into sharing private information. These con artists can sound convincing when they call. They may know a lot about you, and they usually alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling. They use fake names and bogus IRS identification badge numbers. If you don’t answer, they often leave an “urgent” callback request.

“These telephone scams are being seen in every part of the country, and we urge people not to be deceived by these threatening phone calls,” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said. “We have formal processes in place for people with tax issues. The IRS respects taxpayer rights, and these angry, shake-down calls are not how we do business.”

The IRS reminds people that they can know pretty easily when a supposed IRS caller is a fake. Here are five things the scammers often do but the IRS will not do. Any one of these five things is a tell-tale sign of a scam. The IRS will never:

  1. Call to demand immediate payment, nor will we call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill..
  2. Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
  3. Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
  4. Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
  5. Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.

If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money, here’s what you should do:

  • If you know you owe taxes or think you might owe, call the IRS at 1.800.829.1040. The IRS workers can help you with a payment issue.
  • If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to believe that you do, report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 1.800.366.4484 or at www.tigta.gov.
  • You can file a complaint using the FTC Complaint Assistant; choose “Other” and then “Imposter Scams.” If the complaint involves someone impersonating the IRS, include the words “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.

Remember, too, the IRS does not use unsolicited email, text messages or any social media to discuss your personal tax issue. For more information on reporting tax scams, go to www.irs.gov and type “scam” in the search box.

Additional information about tax scams are available on IRS social media sites, including YouTube and Tumblr where people can search “scam” to find all the scam-related posts.