It’s not just the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issuing warnings about phone impersonation and related scams: the U.S. Tax Court has also issued a warning on its website in an effort to educate taxpayers so that they don’t become victims (downloads as a PDF).
Like the IRS, the Tax Court will not:
- Call or email to demand payment of Court fees or taxes;
- Call or email to threaten an arrest; or
- Call or email to insist that a specific payment method be used to pay a tax debt or request credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
If you have received a phone call, email, or other communication that refers to the Tax Court and which you suspect is a scam and would like to discuss it with a member of the Court’s staff, you can call the Court at (202) 521-3390.
(For more on Tax Court, click here.)
Despite increased publicity about these kinds of scams, reports of phone scams increased in 2018, with the IRS reporting receipt of thousands of such complaints each week. These phone scams are “a major threat to taxpayers” and as such, continued to hold down a top spot on the IRS “Dirty Dozen” list of tax scams.
(You can read the most recent Dirty Dozen list here.)
As a reminder, don’t engage or respond with scammers. Here’s how to protect yourself:
- If you receive a call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, and you do not owe tax, or if you are immediately aware that it’s a scam, don’t engage with the scammer and do not give out any information. Just hang up.
- If you receive a telephone message from someone claiming to be from the IRS, and you do not owe tax, or if you are immediately aware that it’s a scam, don’t call them back.
- If you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be with the IRS, and you owe tax or think you may owe tax, do not give out any information. Call the IRS back at 1.800.829.1040 to find out more information.
- Never open a link or attachment from an unknown or suspicious source.
- If you’re not sure about the authenticity of an email, don’t click on hyperlinks. A better bet is to go directly to the source’s main Web page. You can find the IRS website here and the U.S. Tax Court website here.
- Use security software to protect against malware and viruses found in phishing emails.
Thousands of people have lost millions of dollars and their personal information to tax scams. Scammers use the regular mail, telephone, or email to set up individuals, businesses, payroll and tax professionals. The IRS maintains a list of current warnings and alerts on the Tax Scams/Consumer Alerts page on its website.
Don’t fall for the tricks. Keep your personal information safe by remaining alert. And, when in doubt, assume it’s a scam. For tips on protecting yourself from identity theft-related tax fraud, click here.
This article originally appeared on Forbes