On January 15th, I wrote about the tax identity theft week that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is hosting with the Veteran’s Administration, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration and others.  That joint program starts today and continues through the 30th.

Consumers need to try and attend one of the FTC webinars or, at the least, go to the FTC and IRS websites to learn what to do to try and prevent being an identity theft victim.

What’s the latest scam? Scammers calling consumers, telling them they’re IRS agents, that the consumers owe back taxes to the IRS and that they could be arrested and/or jailed if they don’t pay.  The scammers, of course, have an easy way for the consumer to repay these taxes by either wiring it or loading the alleged amount onto a pre-paid debit card —with either payment form going to an address scammers provide.

The FTC just issued an alert about this scam which is very deceptive in so many ways.

  • One: the IRS does not call consumers about taxes they might owe and will not threaten them with arrest or jail.
  • Two: the calls may appear to be coming from Washington, D.C. or even the Treasury Department.
  • Three: the scammers might even know all or part of the consumer’s Social Security Number.

Points two and three make the call look legitimate so consumers need to be even more vigilant.  The FTC’s alert has an excellent diagram depiction of the scam. (www.ftc.gov; “Tax ID Theft Tops FTC Complaints in 2014: IRS Imposter Complaints Up More Than 2,300 Percent;” January 26th).  The FTC urges consumers who get one of these calls to contact the FTC either online or by phone at 1-877-FTC-HELP as well as the IRS at 1-800-908-4490.