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If the IRS Calls, You Could Be Talking to a Hacker!

Scammers posing as IRS officials, and demanding immediate payment for bogus tax bills, are trying to steal your money and your bank account information.

A call from the IRS is no joking matter, especially when that phone call threatens arrest or deportation, so it makes perfect sense that thousands of smartphone users are falling prey to fraudulent IRS phishing scams every year. According to a 2017 IRS report, more than 10,000 individuals have lost a collective total of $54 million to these scams since 2013.

These phone calls are often threatening and aggressive, and target all smartphone users, regardless of age, education, or citizenship status. While police have identified and arrested some of these tax scam perpetrators, there are still many continuing to target smartphone users. A 2017 report from the FTC identified government imposter scams such as this IRS hack as the second most common source of consumer complaints.

Read More: Your Facebook Can Be Hacking Using Your Phone Number

How to Identify These Scams

Posing as IRS officials, often with fake IRS titles and fake badge numbers, these scammers will leave urgent callback requests through robo-calls. The message will inform the recipient of urgent back taxes or bogus tax bills which, if not paid immediately, will lead to an arrest, a revoked license, or even deportation. Callers will request that victims send cash to pay off this tax backlog, often through a wire transfer or a prepaid debit card.

Smart mobile users can rely on a few key indicators to identify these fake IRS calls. The IRS will never call to demand immediate payment or demand that citizens pay taxes without questioning or appealing the amount owed. The government agency will never require tax payment by a certain method and will never request card numbers over the phone. Perhaps most importantly, the IRS will never threaten arrest or deportation as a punishment for failure to pay.

How to Avoid These Scams

Find yourself on the receiving end of a scam IRS call? Hang up immediately and provide the caller with no information. Then, report the call and the number to both the Federal Trade Commission and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration to ensure that others won’t be victims of the same scammer.

Not sure if the call is a scam? Remember to never be pressured into making fast decisions. Instead, take time to research the organization allegedly calling you, and call the business directly to check the call’s legitimacy. If you think you may owe taxes, be sure to inquire through the official IRS number rather than trusting a robo-call.