With the April 15 tax deadline looming, Judy and Mike Neman’s recent experience is a reminder to be careful of tax-related scams.
The Nemans of Uniontown received a threatening message from a man claiming to be calling from the IRS.
The caller had Mike Neman’s name, birthday and address — something Judy Neman says she now knows was probably easily gleaned from the Internet or other public records.
The Nemans were skeptical of the call, but the threatening messages from three phone calls became frightening.
The caller told the Nemans that police would be coming in 45 minutes for Mike Neman, a retired machinist, on an arrest for tax evasion. The caller said the police would not come if the Nemans would provide a credit card number for $2,600 they supposedly owed for back taxes from 2008 to 2013.
“I was a little frightened at first,” said Judy Neman. “It does take you back for a minute. You stop and think, ‘How could this possibly be real?’ But anybody would be a little nervous about it when they tell you they’re from the IRS, even though they speak broken English.”
Mike Neman told the caller he didn’t believe the story. Because Neman has difficulty hearing, he put his wife on the phone. She told the caller tax evasion could not have happened since the couple always worked with a CPA and had already turned in their 2013 tax return.
Eventually, the caller hung up.
The Nemans wanted to share their story to warn others.
“I think they’re calling people who they think are older and they’re going to scare them and give them a credit card number or whatever,” Judy Neman said.
The IRS reminds taxpayers that the agency does not contact people via telephone, e-mail or other methods to ask for personal and financial information, or to demand immediate payment of taxes.
An example of when the IRS may contact a taxpayer would be to schedule an appointment for an audit or exam.
“It’s really rotten that scammers are playing on the IRS during tax season to pressure people into making hasty decisions,” IRS spokeswoman Jennifer Jenkins said. “Bonafide IRS employees who work in audit/exam roles would advise taxpayers of their right to disagree with or appeal a tax bill and of installment agreements, offers-in-compromise and other payment options. Bonafide IRS employees would not make threats that trade off imprisonment or other penalties for immediate wire transfer or prepaid debit card payment.”
The IRS is reporting a recent increase of phone scams similar to the Nemans’ story, or saying people are entitled to a huge refund. Some calls threaten arrest and threaten a driver’s license revocation. Sometimes the calls are paired with follow-up calls from people saying they are from the local police department or the state motor vehicle department.
On tax questions, consumers may call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS employees can help with a payment issue — if there really is such an issue.
If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to think that you owe, report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484.
If you’ve received calls, contact the Federal Trade Commission at 877-382-4357 or use their “FTC Complaint Assistant” online at www.FTC.gov. Type in “IRS Telephone Scam” with the comments of your complaint.
There have also been reports of a recent e-mail scam designed to trick people into sharing sensitive information. The email message claims to be from the IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service with a bogus case number.
The fake emails may include the following message: “Your reported 2013 income is flagged for review due to a document processing error. Your case has been forwarded to the Taxpayer Advocate Service for resolution assistance. To avoid delays processing your 2013 filing contact the Taxpayer Advocate Service for resolution assistance.”
Recipients are directed to click on links that supposedly provide information about the “advocate” assigned to their case or that let them “review reported income.” The links lead to web pages that solicit personal information.
Do not respond to the email or click on the links. Instead, forward the scam emails to the IRS at firstname.lastname@example.org.