It’s everyone’s favorite time of the year, tax season!
Tax season typically involves digging up old receipts, trips to the accountant, and making sure you’ve listed every deduction that you can conceivably qualify for. However, this year the IRS is adding “be aware of fraud” to the end of everyone’s tax season checklist.
Since 2013, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) claims that 896,000 people have reported phone calls from people pretending to be from the IRS. Alarmingly, more than 5,000 people have fallen victim to this scam. All told, these scammers have stolen more than $26.5 million.
Most likely calling from overseas, the imposters scare people into thinking that they owe the government money. They claim to have warrants out for the victim’s arrest, and threaten that the police will take a them into custody if they don’t pay immediately.
The IRS wants people to know that it does not use forceful tactics like these and would never solicit funds over a telephone call. The agency does not send out emails either. Instead, the IRS contacts people by mail.
If you do get a phone call from someone claiming to be an IRS agent, the agency recommends you hang up immediately. Above all, do not share any of your personal information. You can report the call by contacting TIGTA through the treasury's Impersonation Scam Reporting” page or by calling 800-366-4484.
Rep. John Mica, a Republican from Florida’s seventh district, held a news conference Mar. 14 to raise awareness about IRS phone scams.
“It’s just amazing how bold these people are. I got a call myself a couple of weeks ago,” he said. “We’ve had friends, who are fairly sophisticated, get duped by this. And of course they are targeting elderly.”
One of the states hardest hit by this scam is Florida. In fact, Florida is one of the leading states for fraud in the whole country. This could be because our home state is one of the most populous, but more likely it is due to the disproportionate amount of elderly people that live in Florida. Florida has long been an ideal spot for retirees, and retirees have long been a favorite target of scammers.
According to research published last year by the Pew Research Center, 19.1% of Florida’s population is considered elderly (65 and older), by far the largest percentage in the country.
Luckily, Florida is also home to our Business Trial Group. Our business attorneys have extensive experience fighting all sorts of fraud. Currently, we’re helping a Jacksonville couple recover their life savings after they were allegedly defrauded by a local businessman.
If you think you have been the victim of fraud, we can help. Contact us now for a free, no obligation case evaluation.