H&A-ScamAlertThere are a few scams making the rounds these days. Here are a few to keep an eye out for:

  1. The Internal Revenue Service warned taxpayers to be on the lookout for a new email phishing scam. In the scam, the taxpayer receives an email which appears to be from the IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service and includes a bogus case number. The fake e-mails will request you to click links that will either ask for personal information or that will infect your computer with a virus. You should remember that the Taxpayer Advocate Service is legitimate and helps taxpayers resolve Federal tax issues. However, the TAS, along with the rest of IRS, does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email, texting or social media.
  1. The Treasury Inspector General for Taxpayer Administration (TIGTA) issued a warning to taxpayers to be on alert for a scam involving fraudulent calls from scammers posing as IRS representatives. In the scam, callers posing as IRS representatives contact taxpayers by phone, claiming that they owe money to the IRS. Taxpayers are told that they must pay the balance promptly using a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer or be subject to punishment, including arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license. Of course, it really isn’t the IRS calling. The IRS doesn’t generally initiate contact by phone, will not use abusive language or threaten arrest, will not ask for payment using a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer and will never ask for a credit card number over the phone. The IRS rarely contacts you by phone without having made an attempt to send you a notice by mail.
  1. Yet another scam started making the rounds this week, this one targeting non-resident aliens. In the scam, which is a variation on a scam reported over 10 years ago, taxpayers receive an email with the subject “NEW YEAR-NON-RESIDENT ALIEN TAX EXEMPTION UPDATE” claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service.  The email advises that IRS records “indicate that you are a non-resident alien” The email went on to say that “you are exempted from United States of America Tax reporting and withholdings” which can be confirmed by completing a form W-8BEN and faxed back to the number on the form.  There is a legitimate form W-8BEN but it is NOT the same as the form attached to that email. The form attached to the email is an old form W-8BEN from 2006 doctored to look legitimate. In particular, at Part II, the fake form W-8BEN asks for detailed personal information including your “Mothers Maiden Name”, passport information and banking information. Additionally, you would not fax the real form W-8BEN to the IRS: the instructions specifically say “Do not send to the IRS.”

Your personal information is important and should be kept private. It’s okay to be suspicious when you’re asked to provide personal or financial information to people you don’t know – I strongly encourage it.  If you need any more information regarding this, please contact us.