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Beware: Fake IRS Letters are making the rounds this summer

Correspondence season ​is in full swing. That means that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is sending out bills and notices to taxpayers - including correspondence focused on cryptocurrency and heathcare reporting. It may be hard for taxpayers to tell the real thing from the fakes - and scammers are taking advantage of the confusion. Here’s what you need to know. Many taxpayers are aware 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. To try and trick taxpayers, some scammers are sending letters, hoping that folks will take the bait. In one version, the letter threatens an IRS lien or levy based on bogus delinquent taxes owed to a nonexistent agency called the “Bureau of Tax Enforcement.” There is no such agency. The lien notification may also reference the IRS to make you think that the letter is legitimate. The IRS warned taxpayers about this trick - and others - earlier this summer. You can read about those recent IRS scam warnings . Since then, taxpayers have continued to report receipt of fake IRS letters. Some variations of fake IRS letters claim that a warrant has been issued to a taxpayer because of unpaid tax obligations. As with previous scam efforts, the letter goes on to warn that the warrant could result in arrests or other criminal action if the taxpayer doesn’t pay immediately.  In some cases , the fake IRS letters have included facts about real tax debts. That’s scary for taxpayers because it feels legitimate, but keep in mind that some tax-related information, like liens that have been filed against taxpayers, may be available to the public. Don't be frightened into giving up cash or personal information just because a scammer knows one or two facts about you.  Instead, use caution when replying to correspondence. The IRS does send letters to taxpayers. But there are some ways to spot a legit IRS letter from a fake one. Here are a few tips:   - A proper IRS letter will usually arrive in a government envelope and will include the IRS seal on the notice or letter. - A legitimate letter will include a notice or letter number, most commonly found at the top right-hand corner. If there’s no notice or letter number, it’s likely a fake. - A real IRS letter will typically include your truncated tax ID number and will note the tax year or years in question at the top right-hand corner of the letter. - A bona fide letter will include IRS contact information - usually a 1.800 number found at the top of the letter near your identifying information. If there’s no contact information or if it appears to be a personal or cell number, the letter is likely a fake. If there is contact information but you’re not sure that it’s legitimate, you can always call the IRS directly at 1.800.829.1040. - A letter from the real IRS will also include additional information about your rights as a taxpayer such as Publication 1 or an explanation of your appeal rights and other options. The real IRS will not threaten to arrest or deport you. - Finally, a legitimate collection letter will note your payment options, including how to pay any balance due. If the letter asks you to write a check to any party other than the U.S. Treasury, furnish credit or debit card information over the phone, or to pay using iTunes or other gift cards, it’s a fake. (You can find out more about real tax notices here. You can find out how to respond to your tax notices here.)And with tax scams coming from all directions this season, don’t forget about the phones: the IRS says that phone scams are still “a major threat to taxpayers.” That’s why phishing and phone scams topped the 2019 "Dirty Dozen" list. Don’t engage or respond with scammers. Here’s what to do instead:   - If you receive a call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and you do not owe tax, or if you are immediately aware that it’s a scam, just hang up. - If you receive a robocall or telephone message from someone claiming to be from the IRS and you do not owe tax, or if you are immediately aware that it’s a scam, don’t call them back. - If you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be with the IRS, and you owe tax or think you may owe tax, do not give out any information. Call the IRS back at 1.800.829.1040 to find out more information. - Never open a link or attachment from an unknown or suspicious source. If you’re not sure about the authenticity of an email, don’t click on hyperlinks. A better bet is to go directly to the source’s main web page.  - Use strong passwords to protect online accounts and use a unique password for each account. Longer is better, and don't hesitate to lie about important details on websites since crooks may know some of your personal details. - Use two- or multi-factor authentication when possible. Two-factor authentication means that in addition to entering your username and password, you typically enter a security code sent to your mobile phone or other device. If you believe you are a victim of an IRS impersonation scam, you should report it to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at its IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting site and to the IRS by emailing phishing@irs.gov with the subject line "IRS Impersonation Scam."Keep your personal information safe by remaining alert - and when in doubt, assume it’s a scam. For tips on protecting yourself from identity theft-related tax fraud, click here. Originally posted by Kelly Phillips ErbOriginal Article 

Social Security Phone Scam

​Nobody likes to think that he could get scammed, but fraudsters are getting smarter and scams are becoming more difficult to detect. These schemes are more sophisticated than a Nigerian prince asking for cash, and you may not even realize you're being duped until it's too late.One of the fastest-growing scams in the country involves scammers faking as Social Security Administration officials, and you may receive a call from someone saying your Social Security number has been suspended or compromised in some way. Often, they'll claim somebody tried to steal your number or that it was involved in some type of crime, saying you need to provide your Social Security number to reactivate it.Click here to read full article.

ALL TAXPAYERS SHOULD CHECK THEIR WITHHOLDING ASAP

IRS Tax Reform Tax Tip 2019-73, June 10, 2019All taxpayers should check their withholding – also known as doing a Paycheck Checkup – as soon as possible. They should do a checkup even if they did one last year. By checking their withholding, taxpayers can make sure enough is being taken out of their paychecks or other income to cover the tax owed. Here are some things taxpayers should know about withholding and why checking it is important: Taxpayers should check their withholding as early in the year as possible. If someone still has not done a Paycheck Checkup, there’s still time to get their withholding on track. They should do a checkup ASAP. Taxpayers should also check their withholding when life changes occur. These changes include things like: Marriage or divorceBirth or adoption of a childPurchase of a homeRetirementChapter 11 bankruptcyNew job or loss of job  Some taxable income is not subject to withholding. People with this income who also have income from a job may want to adjust the amount of tax their employer withholds from their paycheck. This includes income from things like: InterestDividendsCapital gainsSelf-employment and IRA distributions, including certain Roth IRAs Some life changes might affect a taxpayer’s itemized deductions or tax credits. The taxpayer should check their withholding if they experience changes to their: Medical expensesTaxesInterest expenseGifts to charityDependent care expensesEducation creditChild tax creditEarned income tax credit The best way for taxpayers to check their withholding is to use the Witholding Calculator on IRS.gov.Full Article​

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