John R. Bullis: Agency going after telephone scammers
Maybe you or someone you know has received a telephone call saying “you owe IRS and must pay right away … or you will regret it.”
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) reported to Congress in its semiannual report about the IRS telephone impersonation scam. The report was for the six months ending Sept. 30, 2016. It said, “More than 9,000 victims reported that they had paid the telephone IRS impersonators a total of more than $49 million.”
TIGTA has been trying to stop this scam. It said the TIGTA investigative efforts led to the arrest and indictment of five scammers in Florida and two more in Wisconsin.
TIGTA has an automated process where it calls the telephone numbers and advises the scammers they are conducting a fraudulent and criminal activity. TIGTA claims it has shut done more than 92 percent of the telephone numbers the scammers used.
Thinking of the “I can’t fix what I don’t know is broken,” it is important to try to get the telephone number if you are called by a scammer. Then report to IRS and/or TIGTA about the call you received and let them try to contact the scammer. Just go online to “TIGTA hot line” and fill out the brief report of your experience. TIGTA will take it from there.
Please don’t fall for the fraudulent telephone calls that supposedly are from IRS. If you really owe IRS for back taxes, you will be contacted by letter — not by telephone. Of course you should reply to every IRS notice or letter that says you owe or may owe taxes.
TIGTA is using what they call the “advise and disrupt” procedure to try to identify and stop those IRS impersonation scammers.
But they need to hear of your experiences.
The “hot line” form is easy and quick to fill out. They can’t fix what they don’t know about.
TIGTA also is working to protect the confidential information of taxpayers. They report they found 355,262 potentially unauthorized successful attempts to see the personal information of taxpayers. IRS is trying to protect that information from unauthorized inquiries. When our firm needs to see that information (to verify amounts paid on estimated tax, etc.) we have the client sign form 2848 that authorizes us to see what the IRS records show. We send that signed form 2848 to IRS and they then list us as authorized to see the information. We recently (along with all CPAs and others that do tax work) had to go through a “recertification” process. That establishes who can be authorized to access the IRS information for a particular taxpayer.
Did you hear? “As long as you live, keep learning how to live,” by Lucius A. Seneca.
John Bullis is a certified public accountant, personal financial specialist and certified senior adviser who has served Carson City for 45 years. He is founder emeritus of Bullis and Company CPAs.