Use Care When Answering Calls On Tax Day To Avoid Scammers


Close up of the fingers of a man dialing out on a land line telephone pressing the number keys on the keypad in a communications concept.Getty

Last year, callers reported more negative robocalls on Tax Day than any other day. A whopping 143 million negative robocalls were placed on Tax Day in 2018, according to a comprehensive robocall data analysis by Transaction Network Services, Inc. (TNS). 

Negative robocalls are those which are scams, fraudulent or nuisance calls. The top technique for robocallers? Call spoofing. According to TNS, one in every 4,000 mobile device numbers was hijacked by a spoofer, and one in five people disconnected their phone after their number was hijacked. 

With Tax Day pulling in so many negative calls, it’s not a surprise to find that April was the highest volume month of the year with 10% of the negative calls occurring during this month. At the other end of the spectrum, December was the lowest volume month of the year.

When it comes to days of the week, most negative robocalls happen on Tuesday (15%). Your best chance of avoiding a negative robocall happens on Sunday (5%).

Where you live makes a difference, too. Callers in the Palmetto State are targeted the most: South Carolina received more negative robocalls than any other state. North Carolina and Georgia are next in line, while a Georgia area code (706) was the most heavily targeted area code in the country.

Where are the calls coming from? More negative robocalls originated in Kansas City, Kansas than any other city. Next on the list are Richmond Hill, Georgia and San Francisco, California.

And don’t expect the risk of receiving a scam call to decrease in 2019. TNS reports that “[t]he risk of falling victim to tax filing and IRS related scams – always high – is even greater in 2019.” Scammers are capitalizing on taxpayer confusion left-over from the government shutdown. TNS has already tracked multiple tax filing and IRS-related robocall scams in the first quarter of 2019.

Don’t engage or respond with scammers. Here’s how to protect yourself:

  • 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, don’t engage with the scammer and do not give out any information. Just hang up.
  • If you receive a 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 security software to protect against malware and viruses found in phishing emails.
  • 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 information.
  • 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.

Don’t fall for the tricks. 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

For a look at other kinds of scams targeting taxpayers, click here.

“Consumers should be especially vigilant as we approach tax season, but given the fact that nuisance robocall volume increased 13% in 2018 it is important to never let your guard down when callers are asking for personal information,” said Bill Versen, Chief Product Officer at Transaction Network Services. According to Versen, there is relief on the horizon as government and industry work to provide “better protection for consumers and businesses negatively impacted by robocalls.” 

To obtain the data, TNS analyzed robocalls from more than one billion daily call events across hundreds of carriers. TNS provides a full range of services from dedicated connections to managed IP network solutions, providing local support and global reach to medium and large enterprises and service providers.

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