Protect Yourself from Tax Scams

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Every year, more and more people are impacted by tax scams. Bethpage is here to help you recognize and avoid different types of IRS impersonation scams.

How the scam works:

Unsolicited calls claiming to be IRS officials can trick potential victims into paying a phony tax bill. Fraudsters will usually require payment through a wire transfer or a prepaid gift card. They may also leave “urgent” callback requests through an email or voicemail, and use threats such as arresting or deporting the victim if they don’t pay. Fraudsters often alter caller ID numbers to make it look like the IRS is calling and will even use IRS employee titles and fake badge numbers to appear legitimate.

It’s important to know that the IRS will never:

  • Call to demand immediate payment or ask for credit/debit information over the phone.
  • Threaten to immediately contact law enforcement to have the taxpayer arrested for not paying.
  • Ask for a specific payment method, such as a prepaid debit card, gift card, or wire transfer. The IRS will mail a letter or bill to the taxpayer about money owed.

Important things to know if contacted about delinquent taxes by an IRS private collector:

  • Private collectors for the IRS cannot accept direct payments. All payments should be made to the U.S. Treasury.
  • IRS private collectors will contact you via mailed letter. No harassing, abusive, or threatening language is allowed in the letters.
  • Certain tax bills cannot be handled by private collectors for the IRS — those for taxpayers who are deceased, under age 18, in a designated combat zone, a victim of identity theft, or currently in audit, litigation, or criminal investigation.

Things you can do if you are targeted:

  • Do not give out any information. Hang up immediately.
  • Contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) to report the call.
  • Contact the Federal Trade Commission and use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on

How to protect yourself:

  • Shred any paperwork not needed for tax preparation.
  • Go digital by signing up for Bethpage’s Digital Banking to eliminate the need for physical checks, and use our app to set alerts to notify you on all of your account transactions.
  • Be suspicious of any phone calls or emails claiming to be from the IRS, even with the appropriate logos.
  • When filing taxes by paper, take them directly to the post office and give them directly to a postal worker.

It’s important to beware of fraudsters stealing year-end statements, W-2s, and other income information to file fraudulent returns by claiming to be the victim. While there are different ways to receive a tax refund – usually via direct deposit or mailed check – fraudsters that file illegitimate tax returns often choose a prepaid card for the refund because it is as good as cash and cannot be traced or recovered.

Members who suspect they are victims of identity fraud should file a police report with local law enforcement. They should then call the IRS Identity Theft department at 1-800-908-4490 with a copy of the police report, a completed IRS affidavit Form 14039, and state-issued identification. You will find more information in the Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft on the IRS website.

Remember to stay alert to scams that use the IRS as a lure. Tax scams can happen any time of year, not just at tax time.