This week our area has been hit with an increased number of tax-related scam telephone calls. They are starting to sound much more realistic than similar scams in prior years.
Usually the caller will identify themselves as a member of an enforcement division of either the IRS or Maryland State Police. They will inform you that there was a mistake on your income tax return from last year and you owe a sum of money. The caller will do their best to sound official and scare you with significant penalties and jail time. Please do not fall victim to these tactics.
First, the IRS and Comptroller of Maryland will never call you to collect money. They will always use certified mail when they are about to garnish your wages or levy your bank account. They will also never ask you to get a debit card or money order and bring it to their location. These requests are all fake.
If you receive a questionable phone call regarding your tax returns, you can tell if they are legitimate by asking them a few questions. For example, ask them to confirm how many children you claimed. Tell them you think you may have left one off by mistake. If they have your return, they should know how many dependents are on your return. Another question you can ask is who was listed at the bottom as the preparer. You can tell them you had a tax service prepare it and they made a mistake, so you purchased software and prepared it yourself, but possibly sent them the wrong version of the return in error. Again, if they have your return, they should be able to tell you whose name is listed as the preparer of the return. If they can’t, you know they are a phony caller.
Today I received one of those calls. I am not very busy today, so I decided to have some fun. After about twenty to thirty minutes of playing along and asking them questions, they must have gotten the impression I was toying with them and they hung up. It was fun while it lasted…… At least for me.