Sierra Sun editorial: Be wary of tax seasons scammers
March 19, 2015
Today is the first day of spring, which means several things in terms of weather and recreation — and also that the clock has begun ticking to Tax Day, April 15.
And, unfortunately, it also means that we get to deal more and more with the growing number of ugly and abrasive people who are working their hardest to drain our pockets dry. No, we're not talking about the IRS, although, that's perhaps up for debate.
But kidding aside, we're talking about scammers. Whether by phone, Internet or other ways, these people seem to get cleverer every year with their frauds.
Of course, if you read the latest Truckee Police Logs, we know the issue is not just limited to tax scams.
It seems we read stories every day of a hard-working, honest resident being duped by someone "selling" a car online, or being bullied by a "police officer" who's demanding "warrant money," etc. The list goes on.
But these days, tax scammers are the flavor of the month, so we wanted to share some advice from the IRS, which offers the following five clear giveaways of things scammers often do, but the feds would never do:
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1. Call to demand immediate payment, nor will the feds call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.
2. Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
3. Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
4. Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
5. Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
Further, the IRS strongly recommends that if you know you don't owe taxes or have no reason to believe that you do, yet you feel you're being scammed, report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 1-800-366-4484 or at http://www.tigta.gov.
Our advice? That good old-fashioned mantra of "if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is" sure does work both ways.
And here's a final friendly tip. The IRS has a helpful website to learn about all kinds of scams. Visit it here: irs.gov/uac/Tax-Scams-Consumer-Alerts.