Spotting a tax scam

Posted at 10:07 AM, Mar 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-15 17:53:23-04

Tax season is rife with scammers using clever ways to scare you into handing over your money. Hundreds of thousands of people have been targeted in the past few years. Consumer Reports tells you how you can spot a scam so you don’t become a victim.

It can happen to anyone. This threatening message was left on the home phone of a Consumer Reports employee: “I’m calling regarding an enforcement action executed by the U.S. Treasury.” When she called back, she was told she could avoid arrest by immediately wiring more than $6,000 to clear her record.

The scammer said, “You need to go to the bank first; you need to withdraw the money in cash.” And when she balked, he threatened her by adding, “We’ll send the officers and you’ll be arrested.”

Consumer Reports says it’s critical to know that the IRS never calls out of the blue. If you have a tax problem, you’ll almost always be contacted by mail first. Other things the IRS will never do:

>Demand immediate payment.

>Threaten imminent arrest or other enforcement action.

>Require a specific payment method like a prepaid debit card.

>Request confidential information on the phone.


If you suspect that a call you get is a tax scam, report it to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1-800 366 4484 or file a complaint online at



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