Got a text about money from the IRS? Scammers have long used phone calls threatening to sue you for back taxes or penalties in order to pressure victims into paying up. But now they’re turning to texts, too. These scams, which are often aimed at seniors, claim the victim is eligible for a tax rebate or refund and ask them to provide their bank account information so it can be direct deposited into their accounts. But by sharing that information with criminals, consumers risk identity theft or malware that can be downloaded onto their mobile devices.
How much does it cost to verify identity?
Typically, the IRS will contact taxpayers by mail before making any demands. And even then, the agency will never request payment by gift cards or hard-to-trace transfer methods such as wire transfers. Moreover, legitimate letters from the IRS will always have an official government envelope and logo. They will also address the issue at hand and will include your truncated tax ID number or Social Security number to help verify that it is a genuine IRS notice.
The IRS also advises consumers to avoid clicking on links or opening attachments in unsolicited email messages, unless the message is related to IRS Secure Access, a two-factor authentication process. If you are ever unsure about a suspicious or unexpected communication you receive, contact the IRS directly by telephone at 800-829-1040. For more tips, see the IRS’ Dirty Dozen list of common scams. Ideal Tax notes that credit card debt, mortgage issues, student loan concerns and bankruptcies can put people in the crosshairs of these fraudsters.