“By Amaka Chukwuma | Wealth of Geeks”
Since 2018, more than 75,000 victims have lost $28 million to fraudsters impersonating the IRS via phone, email, and text message, according to the Federal Trade Commission. In newly released data from the FTC, consumers reported fraud-related losses of nearly $8.8 billion in 2022, a 30 percent increase over the previous year.
Swindlers stop at nothing to take advantage of struggling households seeking methods to manage and alleviate debt in the face of rising living expenses and soaring inflation.
These criminals seek out novel approaches to make this a triumph. Google searches for “IRS Text Scam ” continue to increase, most recently by 809% over the past 48 hours.
Fake text messages pretending to be from the IRS are the latest instrument for clever fraudsters. In a May news release on the IRS website, IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel referred to this trend, stating, “Email and text scams are relentless.” In 2022, the IRS found and reported thousands of fake domains linked to various MMS/SMS/text scams (called “smishing”) that targeted taxpayers.
What You Should Know About IRS Text Scams
The tax relief professionals at Ideal Tax note that credit card debt, mortgage problems, student loan concerns, and bankruptcies are just some of the tax problems that can put an unsuspecting victim in the crosshairs of these unscrupulous con men.
Scammers now send text messages about a ‘tax rebate’ or another tax refund or benefit” rather than contacting victims about tax arrears and threatening payment.
While the texts may appear legitimate and even reference a “tax rebate” or ” refund payment,” the sender is most likely a fraudster phishing for your information. The Tax relief pros say that if you click the link to claim “your refund,” the scammer could steal your personal information or even install malware on your phone.
In some cases, scammers may cause panic by employing wordings like “Your account has now been put on hold” or “Unusual Activity Report” and lure recipients with a “Solutions” link they claim will restore the recipient’s account.
How To Protect Yourself
Even though the tax season is over, the scams aren’t on hold for these ever-persistent swindlers. They attack at any time. The first thing you can do to protect yourself is to be aware of that and be on the lookout. Here’s how to spot an IRS text scam, according to the experts at Ideal Tax.
Never Click on Any Links in Text Messages From The IRS
Do not give out any personal information to any “organization” that reaches you out of the blue. Regular mail letters sent via U.S. Postal Service are the gold standard for formal correspondence. Call the IRS at 800-829-1040 if you have any doubts about the letter’s validity.
The IRS Will Never Call, Text or Email for The First Time
The IRS rarely uses text messages or emails as an initial point of contact. In the first instance, they will always send you a formal letter. However, the IRS may make a house call or business visit under certain conditions. This is the case if a taxpayer owes money because of a missed tax deadline, failed to file a tax return, or failed to pay an employment tax deposit,
Always Check The Status of Any Pending Refund on The Official Website
If you are in the process of getting a tax refund from the (IRS), you can always check the status of your refund on the official website of the IRS using the IRS Where’s My Refund tool or the IRS2Go mobile app. The systems update every 24 hours. You can as well call the IRS to check your refund status.
Always Report Any Unexpected Text Or Emails From The “IRS”
Emails or text messages purporting to be from the IRS that raise any of the above red flags should be reported. You can send a screenshot or an email to email@example.com as an attachment. Reporting a scam helps authorities gather evidence against perpetrators, identify patterns, alert the public, and collaborate on consumer protection strategies.
Two Things to Never Forget
Keep in mind that revenue officers and agents from the IRS frequently pay unannounced visits to taxpayers’ homes and places of business to discuss tax debt, overdue tax returns, or businesses that have fallen behind on payroll tax deposits.
If they owe money, taxpayers should expect to receive a demand for payment from IRS revenue officers. But taxpayers should equally remember that they will never be asked to send money to anyone else but the United States Treasury.