Scammers making threatening phone calls in order to trick people into giving up sensitive information is nothing new, but be on the lookout for this recent trend. Scammers have been calling about a fictitious tax--the "federal student tax", which does not exist--in order to get information out of students who don't know any better.
If your tax practice frequently works with families, consider warning your clients about these types of phone calls ahead of time. They're most common during the back-to-school months, but be alert for them in-between college semesters as well, as this is also a strategic time for a scammer to make these threatening calls.
Remember, the IRS is very specific about how it handles correspondence with taxpayers. Taxpayer Advocate Service lists some ways you can tell if a phone call from a supposed IRS agent is a scam.
"The IRS will never call demanding immediate payment. The IRS will usually mail you a bill first and is obligated to give you the opportunity to find out more information about the amount you owe.
The IRS will not threaten you with immediate enforcement action like warning you that law-enforcement will have you arrested if you do not pay up.
The IRS will never ask for credit or debit card information over a phone line."
Keep yourselves and your clients safe and informed! These scams are everywhere, but thankfully there are always some telltale signs you can use to determine the situation.