We’ve posted information before about ruthless scammers who call, mail, or email notices to individuals claiming that they owe back taxes in an attempt to scare them into paying nonexistent debts.  These dishonest and aggressive collectors are especially active right now, and we’ve received several reports from clients and local law enforcement agencies recently.

As a reminder, if you receive a call from someone claiming to be a tax collector:

  • DO NOT give any personal information, especially not a social security number or bank account information.  A legitimate tax agency representative will NEVER ask you for that type of information over the phone.
  • Likewise, don’t be fooled into believing a tax agent is legit just because he or she can recite some of your personal information to you over the phone.  Actual tax collectors will not share personal taxpayer identification by phone.
  • Ask for an account detail in writing before agreeing to any payment.  Both the IRS and ODR will attempt to contact you in writing before using any other method, and neither agency will ever use email for official purposes.
  • Legitimate tax agents will not make demands for specific forms of payment.  In other words, do not give payment information in the form of bank accounts numbers, credit or debit cards, wire transfer or any other financial information.  If you owe a tax debt, you can pay by mail to the official payment addresses for the agency, or pay in-person at a local office where the information can be verified.
  • Don’t be intimidated or harassed by a caller who threatens to arrest you, deport you, or contact your work or family if you refuse to pay.  While tax agencies have many tools they can use to collect a tax debt, you’ll be given ample notice if wage or bank account garnishment are in your future.  And criminal penalties don’t apply except in cases of fraud or criminal activity.

Some scammers have become even more sophisticated in their operations, and will contact taxpayers to tell them they are due a refund from the IRS or ODR.  Don’t let the “good news” trick you into giving away personal financial information.  Instead, if you think a refund notice might be authentic, end the call and contact the agency directly for verification using the information at the bottom of this post.

Finally, if you believe you’ve been contacted by a scammer posing as a tax collector, report it to the tax agency immediately.  They’ll work with local law enforcement to locate and stop criminals from tricking others out of their money.

To contact the IRS:

go to www.irs.gov and click on “Get Transcript Online” to check your tax account on the web, or call 1-800-829-1040.  If you believe you’ve been contacted by a fraudulent agent, contact the Treasury Inspector General online here.

To contact ODR:

go to ODR’s Revenue Online application page to create an account and view your tax information securely online or call 1-503-945-8738.  If you believe you’ve been contacted by a fraudulent agent, contact the Oregon Department of Revenue by using the online Fraud Reporting tool, or call 503-947-2000.

If you filed bankruptcy and have been contacted about a discharged tax debt:

Call your attorney immediately.  If your case was filed by an Armstrong Bankruptcy Law Offices attorney, please call our office at  541-683-6652, and we’ll be glad to assist you.

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