Every year, scam artists pretend to be IRS officials to get your money. They’ll call, email, or text you, claiming you owe back taxes or say there's a problem with your tax return. And, believe it or not, they even try to fool IRS officials.
“I get the calls myself. We get them here in the office,” said Special Agent in Charge for IRS Criminal Investigation Kristina O’Connell.
O’Connell oversees the IRS's Boston field office for criminal investigation. Its agents, analysts and support staff actively pursue tax-related criminal activity in New England. Last year, they investigated over 100 suspicious tax preparers in the area.
“Though it is a chronic problem, we have made great strides in reducing the amount of loss to the taxpayer, financial loss,” O’Connell said.
Stopping scammers also takes help from the public, in the form of vigilance.
If you get a suspicious email, the IRS says don’t reply, don’t open any attachments or click on any links. Get a strange phone call? Just hang up. The IRS will first contact you in the form of a letter, O'Connell said.
“The IRS will never reach out to you in a bullying fashion over a telephone call, asking for your personal information,” she said. “They will never call, demanding payment. That is not how the IRS does business.”
And if you have any questions or concerns about a call or email, or you feel like you've been duped, you don't have to contact someone in Washington. You can email the Boston office directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org. O'Connell says an agent will get back to you within 48 to 72 hours.
“The best defense is a good offense,” said O’Connell. “Send me an email. Give me a call. Let me know. I promise you that, here in New England, IRS Investigation is working on behalf of the taxpayer and we will do that with your help.”