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Back-to-School Tax Scams on the Rise: IRS

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The Internal Revenue Service warned taxpayers Thursday of telephone scammers targeting students and parents during the back-to-school season and demanding payments for nonexistent taxes, such as the “Federal Student Tax.”

If the person does not comply, the scammer becomes aggressive and threatens to report the student to the police to be arrested.

“Although variations of the IRS impersonation scam continue year-round, they tend to peak when scammers find prime opportunities to strike,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, in a statement. “As students and parents enter the new school year, they should remain alert to bogus calls, including those demanding fake tax payments from students.”

The IRS encourages college and school communities to share this information so that students and their families know of the phone scams.

Scammers are constantly employing new tactics to carry out their crimes in new and unsuspecting ways. This year, the IRS has seen scammers use a variety of schemes to fool taxpayers into paying money or giving up personal information.

The back-to-school scam is just one of many recent or ongoing ones, which include:

  • Altering the caller ID on incoming phone calls in a “spoofing” attempt to make it seem like the IRS, the local police or another agency is calling;
  • Imitating software providers to trick tax professionals;
  • Demanding fake tax payments using iTunes gift cards;
  • Soliciting W-2 information from payroll and human resources professionals;
  • “Verifying” tax return information over the phone; and
  • Pretending to be from the tax preparation industry.

The IRS states in the alert that it will never call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer, but will first mail you a bill if you owe any taxes.

Those getting a call from someone claiming to be from the IRS should contact U.S. Treasury Tax Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) to report the call, and use the IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting web page or call 800-366-4484.

— Check out IRS’s Top 12 Tax Scams for 2016: The ‘Dirty Dozen’ on ThinkAdvisor.


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