Although media coverage has done a great job of raising awareness on IRS scams, many parents and college students still find themselves falling into the trap set by impersonators. The perpetrators impersonate IRS representatives and demand payment on student loan taxes that do not even exist by threatening them with criminal charges or not being able to finish their college courses.

In the past 3 years, more than $49 million dollars have been lost due to IRS impersonation scams. Caissie Davis, a senior at Quinnipiac University located in Connecticut, was a recent victim of this scam. She usually doesn’t answer phone calls from numbers she’s never seen before. However, the scammers continued calling and immediately threatened to arrest her and expel her from college if she didn’t pay back taxes immediately.

Davis was reluctant at first, due to them requesting payments in gift cards. However, the scammers convinced her that it was legit due to them having personal information about her, such as her school’s address, phone number, and home address. The fake number the scammers called from even appeared to be from a local police station, which made it even more difficult for Caissie to ignore. In this case, It’s very obvious they were experienced, which is how they were able to hold her on the phone for 4 hours while she honored their requests. In the end, she handed over $7,900 in gift cards.

Anny Pachner, a spokesperson for the IRS states that the scammers are “very aggressive and persuasive.” The best way to avoid impersonators is to recognize the signals of an IRS scam. So, what are they?

5 Things the IRS will never do

  • Call and demand a payment to be made immediately, nor will they call about taxes owed before sending you a bill in the mail.
  • Force you to pay taxes without allowing you to question or appeal the given amount
  • Require specific methods of payment such as prepaid debit cards
  • Ask for personal card numbers over the phone for payment
  • Threaten you with local law enforcement to have you arrested for not paying immediately

Whether you’re a parent or college student, it is extremely important to become aware of the IRS scams that are occurring on a daily basis. Many of these thieves are very well prepared and are very convincing. So, it’s vital to understand what the IRS does and does not do in order to determine if it’s a scam or not. If you’re receiving a phone call, email, or text requesting payment, steer clear and report it on the IRS website.