Scammers Now Impersonating U.S. Tax Court Staff
I’ve been alerting readers to the multitude of tax scams that have reached plague-like proportions over the years.
The news media has been getting the word out about the scams and the IRS has been warning taxpayers too. Scammers don’t take vacations and they really get to work during the tax filing season. So, it’s not at all surprising that the U.S. Tax Court has issued a warning as well. Apparently the scammers are posing as Tax Court staff members now.
Most people taxpayers are not familiar with the U.S. Tax Court unless they have a dispute with the IRS about their taxes. While most taxpayers think of the IRS as the judge and jury when it comes to tax matters, there is actually a higher court. Tax disputes that can’t be resolved between taxpayers and the IRS may be resolved in the United States Tax Court. Scammers have a nose for digging up the government agencies that will trigger fear and obedience in unsuspecting taxpayers. But, just like the IRS, the Tax Court is not a harsh taskmaster.
Actions Neither The IRS Nor The U.S. Tax Court Engage In
Neither the IRS nor the Tax Court will:
•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.
In the Tax Court’s warning to taxpayers, they suggest that, “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.
Take Precautions To Avoid And Protect Yourself Against Scammers
The best way to protect yourself is to be careful with your private information. If you get a phone call or message from someone claiming to be from the IRS or the U.S. Tax Court, simply hang up. It’s best not to engage with or respond to scammers.
Thousands of people have lost millions of dollars and their personal information to tax scams. Don’t fall for their schemes. I’m offering the top 5 tips from the taxgirl.com site to help protect yourself from becoming a victim of identity theft and tax fraud.
1. Understand that public wi-fi access really does mean public. When you’re sitting in Starbucks or your local library, be careful: your data may be vulnerable to interception. Don’t connect to an unknown wi-fi connection (make sure that it’s legitimate).
2. Take care with private documents. With so much emphasis on internet security, it’s easy to forget to safeguard paper documents. Don’t be careless with credit card statements, bank receipts, and copies of tax returns.
3. Keep your mailing address current. We’re an increasingly mobile society. It’s rare that you’ll retire in the home that you start out in: chances are, you’ll switch addresses more than once. When you do move, make sure that you contact your financial institutions, credit reporting agencies, and tax authorities so that your mail doesn’t end up in the wrong hands.
4. Keep an eye out on bank and credit card statements. You don’t have to be obsessive but do check your accounts from time to time to make sure that the recorded transactions are actually yours. Investigate and immediately report any suspicious activity – even small transactions. Sometimes thieves will test the security of a card or availability of funds by making a number of small attempts first.
5. Don’t give away the store. Companies love gathering your data. That data helps them make decisions about marketing which means the more data they can glean, the better – for them. When making purchases online or signing up for newsletters, only provide the information that the company needs: you don’t have to give out all of your information.