Chalk up a new low for those who seek to steal taxpayers’ personal information. The Internal Revenue Service says a scam has surfaced that uses Video Relay Services (VRS) to trick hearing-impaired taxpayers into divulging personal and financial information to identity thieves.
As is the case with any taxpayer, hearing-impaired taxpayers should avoid giving any information to anyone they don’t know. These taxpayers should always confirm that any person asking for their logins, passwords, Social Security numbers or other private information is who they claim to be.
The IRS stresses not to automatically trust calls just because they are made through the VRS, since the video relay services operators do not screen calls for validity.
What the Real IRS Won’t Do
Taxpayers should keep in mind that there are certain tactics used by scammers that the real IRS just won’t do:
- Demand immediate payment and require that payment be made in a specific way – such as prepaid gift card, debit card or a wire transfer. In most cases, the IRS won’t call taxpayers without mailing a letter by U.S. mail first.
- Threaten the taxpayer that local police or other law enforcement will arrest them immediately for not paying a tax bill.
- Demand that the taxpayer pay a tax bill without the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.
- Ask for credit card or debit card numbers over the phone.
If the Scammers Call
Hearing-impaired taxpayers who get one of these calls and believe they may owe tax should call the IRS at 800-829-1040 through VRS. IRS operators can help with a payment issue or confirm if there really is a tax issue in the first place.
If taxpayers get such a call, but know they don’t owe taxes – or don’t have any reason to think they might – call and report the call to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 800-366-4484.
To learn more about the latest telephone tax scams, go to www.irs.gov and type “scam” in the search box. The IRS has a number of YouTube videos available on a variety of topics in American Sign Language (ASL) with open-captions and voice-over.