Tax season may be over, but criminals never take a break.
Taxes are confusing enough. Being a student can be daunting. Now it seems scammers are taking advantage of young people, going after students for a tax that doesn't even exist: something called the "Federal Student Tax."
In this newest scam, the IRS says impersonators are demanding payment for this bogus tax, scaring students into wiring them money. If the victim doesn't act fast enough, the criminal threatens to report the student to the police.
"These scams and schemes continue to evolve nationwide, and now they're trying to trick students," said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. "Taxpayers should remain vigilant and not fall prey to these aggressive calls demanding immediate payment of a tax supposedly owed."
Fraudsters often pretend to be from the IRS, a tax company, or a state revenue department. They use threats to bully people into paying a non-existent tax bill.
Most students aren't familiar with the tax code and scammers are taking advantage of this. They threaten to arrest, deport or revoke the driver's license of their victim if they don't get the money.
Here's What to Do Immediately
If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money, here's what you should do:
- Hang up. Remember that the IRS will never call to demand immediate payment over the phone, or call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill. Don't give out any personal or financial information.
- Contact TIGTA to report the call. Use their "IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting" web page or call 800-366-4484.
- Report it to the Federal Trade Commission by visiting FTC.gov and clicking on "File a Consumer Complaint." Add "IRS Telephone Scam" in the notes.
- If you think you might actually owe taxes, call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040. Don't ever wire money to someone you don't know.
Other Scams to Watch For This Year
Criminals are constantly thinking of new ways to access your personal information and steal your money. Here are some other new phone scams to be aware of.
- A caller demanding immediate tax payment for taxes owed on an iTunes gift card.
- "Verifying" tax return information over the phone.
- Pretending to be from the tax preparation industry.
Other Red Flags--The IRS Will Never Do These Things
- Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for failure to pay taxes.
- Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
- Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
- Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
More information on how to report phishing or phone scams is available on IRS.gov.
Students, learn these lessons early to protect your money now. Next time, someone calls you with a bogus tax threat; you'll know what to do.