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Post Date:  6/18/2019
Last Updated:  6/18/2019

Summary
Cross References
- IR-2019-104, June 5, 2019

Although the April filing deadline has passed, scam artists remain hard at work, and the IRS is advising taxpayers to be on the lookout for a spring surge of evolving phishing emails and telephone scams.

The IRS is seeing signs of two new variations of tax-related scams. One involves Social Security Numbers related to tax issues and another threatens people with a tax bill from a fictional government agency. Here are some details:
- The SSN hustle. The latest twist includes scammers claiming to be able to suspend or cancel the victim's Social Security Number. In this variation, the Social Security cancellation threat scam is similar to and often associated with the IRS impersonation scam. It is yet another attempt by con artists to frighten people into returning ‘robocall' voicemails. Scammers may mentio n overdue taxes in addition to threatening to cancel the person's SSN.
- Fake tax agency. This scheme involves the mailing of a letter threatening an IRS lien or levy. The lien or levy is based on bogus delinquent taxes owed to a non-existent agency, "Bureau of Tax Enforcement." There is no such agency. The lien notification scam also likely references the IRS to confuse potential victims into thinking the letter is from a legitimate organization.

Both display classic signs of being scams. The IRS and its Security Summit partners (the state tax agencies and the tax industry) remind everyone to stay alert to scams that use the IRS or reference taxes, especially in late spring and early summer as tax bills and refunds arrive.

Phone scams. The IRS does not leave pre-recorded, urgent or threatening messages. In many variations of the phone scam, victims are told if they do not call back, a warrant will be issued for their arrest. Other verbal threats include law-enforcement agency intervention, deportation or revocation of licenses.

Criminals can fake or "spoof" caller ID numbers to appear to be anywhere in the country, including from an IRS office. This prevents taxpayers from being able to verify the true call number. Fraudsters also have spoofed local sheriff's offices, state departments of motor vehicles, federal agencies and others to convince taxpayers the call is legitimate.

Email phishing scams. The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. The IRS initiates most contacts through regular mail delivered by the United States Postal Service. However, there are special circumstances when the IRS will call or come to a home or business. These visits include times when a taxpayer has an overdue tax bill, a delinquent tax return, a delinquent employment tax payment, or the IRS needs to tour a business as part of a civil investigation (such as an audit or collection case) or during criminal investigation.

If a taxpayer receives an unsolicited email that appears to be from either the IRS or a program closely linked to the IRS that is fraudulent, report it by sending it to phishing@irs.gov. The Report Phishing and Online Scams page provides complete details.

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