What's worse than having the IRS contact you? How about having somebody impersonating the IRS and trying to scam you out of your money? Unfortunately, that is happening a lot lately.
In today's show, we discuss how to spot and avoid getting scammed by fraudsters who use the phone and email to try to get you to part with your hard-earned money.
Chances are you've received a call from the "IRS" saying you owe money and that you have to pay up immediately.
This type of "IRS" scam can be spotted pretty quickly if you are armed with some basic information.
As you'll learn in today's show, there are ways to protect yourself from these frauds. So please read below and listen in as we discuss how you can avoid being the victim of a scammer.
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How to Avoid an IRS Scam
1. Scammers pose as an IRS agent and call you.
When they call, they may demand money or say that you have a refund due and try to get you to share private information. They may even have some minor information about you, possibly an address. The one that I've seen repeated the most is they say you owe 2 or 3 years of back taxes and that there's a lawsuit that’s been issued against you. And then they try to scare you by saying someone will be coming to your house to take your car, revoke your driver's license, and take your personal belongings. The scam is they say the problem will go away if you just fork over several thousand dollars right now over the phone.
2. Here's a real-life video of an "IRS" scammer in action.
My industry colleagues Scott Hanson and Pat McClain recently filmed a video of Pat calling back one of the scammers who left him a voicemail. Watch the video below and you can see how persistent these scammers are.
3. One way to tell if you are being contacted by an IRS scammer is to know the following about the real IRS.
Our governmental IRS:
- Never asks for credit card, debit card or prepaid card information over the telephone.
- Never insists that taxpayers use a specific payment method to pay tax obligations.
- Never requests immediate payment over the telephone and will not take enforcement action immediately following a phone conversation. Taxpayers usually receive prior notification of IRS enforcement action involving IRS tax liens or levies.
If the person contacting you from the "IRS" violates any of the above, you know they're fake.
4. If you are contacted by one of the fake "IRS" outfits, here's what you should do.
- If you know you owe taxes or you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS at 1.800.829.1040. The IRS employees at that line can help you with a payment issue, if there really is such an issue.
- If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to think that you owe any taxes (for example, you’ve never received a bill or the caller made some bogus threats as described above), then call and report the incident to TIGTA at 1.800.366.4484.
- 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.
5. You should also watch out for Medicare Health Insurance scams.
There are perpetrators out there that will pose as Medicare representatives to get people to give them their personal information. Sometimes, these scammers will provide bogus services for elderly people at makeshift mobile clinics and then use the personal information the elderly person provided to bill Medicare and pocket the money. If you think you may be a victim of a Medicare scam, "Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to talk about it with someone you trust," says the National Council on Aging. "Keep handy the phone numbers and resources you can turn to, including the local police, your bank (if money has been taken from your accounts), and Adult Protective Services. To obtain the contact information for Adult Protective Services in your area, call the Eldercare Locator, a government sponsored national resource line, at: 1-800-677-1116, or visit their website at: www.eldercare.gov."
Bill Keen on protecting you...
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Bill Keen is a CHARTERED RETIREMENT PLANNING COUNSELOR℠ and independent financial advisor with more than 25 years of industry experience. As the founder and CEO of Keen Wealth Advisors, a registered investment advisory firm, he specializes in providing personalized retirement planning designed to help people thrive before and during their retirement years. With a passion for educating others, Bill regularly blogs about retirement planning, hosts the podcast Keen on Retirement, and has contributed to U.S. News and World Report, Reuters, Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch, Yahoo Finance, and other publications. Based in Overland Park, Kansas, Bill and his team work with clients throughout the greater Kansas City area and across the nation. To learn more, connect with him on LinkedIn or visit www.keenwealthadvisors.com.
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