Tax season is almost upon us, and that means it’s time for scammers to take
advantage of taxpaying citizens who just want to do the right thing. The latest scam,
as covered by AARP, involves people calling taxpayers and stating that they are from
the IRS and trying to collect unpaid back taxes from the individuals they call. They
validate their back-tax claim by verifying sensitive information, such as the
taxpayer’s Social Security number, and they threaten the individuals with tax liens,
arrest and more. Some are even mailing official-looking collection forms to
So how do you recognize a legitimate IRS request for payment instead of one issued
by a scammer? Here are three tips:
1. Call the IRS to confirm the legitimacy of a mailing or phone call you
receive. Remember, use the number for the IRS that you find on the IRS.gov
website, not one given to you by a caller or printed on a letter.
2. Be suspect of anyone demanding a wire transfer or phone payment.
While it’s true that the IRS can lien property when a taxpayer doesn’t pay
on time, there is still a billing process that’s adhered to before that happens.
If someone is demanding immediate payment and this is the first you’re
hearing of it, there’s a good chance it’s a scam.
3. Keep accessible tax records. When the IRS finds an error or a back-tax
issue, they will let you know what tax form it’s from and what information
they found that prompted the collection. When you keep your tax records,
you can validate any back-tax claims and are far less likely to fall for a scam.
Just remember not to share your back-tax info with anyone—some
scammers are very good at pumping information out of their victims during
a call. Working with a tax advisor can also help since you can call them to
verify any back-taxes claims made.
Staying on your toes about your finances during retirement may seem like an
inconvenience, but it’s the only way to ensure you don’t become a victim of scams
and that you maintain your savings throughout your golden years.