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12:16 PM Fri, Dec. 14th

Letter | Donald J. Lynch: Avoiding fraud and identity theft

Over the years, I have taken many calls from clients who received a call from the “Internal Revenue Service” saying they are about to file suit to collect back taxes supposedly owed. Other calls have said they are issuing a warrant for your arrest.

These calls are fake 100 percent of the time. The IRS never has to file suit to collect taxes. They send out a 30-day letter and then they levy your bank accounts or put a lien on your income.

The IRS also never initiates contact with a taxpayer with a telephone call or an email. The IRS also never tells you to pay the tax right now over the telephone using any kind of payment card. They will always give you a few days, or even a month or more, to pay the outstanding balance. They will often set up a payment plan for you.

The IRS wants you to send information about the contact to them, but experience shows this to be a waste of time on your part.

In a new scam, criminals file a fake return and have the refund deposited to your bank account. Then they call, identify themselves as the IRS and want the refund back. This one actually needs to be reported to the IRS, since it involves money that belongs to the government.

You may receive an email from the “Internal Revenue Service.” These emails look good, but they are fake. The only time you will receive an email from an IRS agent is if you are already working with them on something. Never open a link in one of these emails; they are intended to plant a virus or worm on your computer.

I do not open any link or attachment in emails unless I know for a fact it is from someone I know and trust. Because email addresses can be hacked and taken over, just because an email says it comes from someone I know does not mean it does. So, if an email says something like, “You will enjoy this” or similar language, it does not get opened. It must say something like, “Don, here are the documents you requested on my mortgage.” This is necessary to protect my clients information from predators.

Do not give any information to anyone who initiates contact by telephone. Do not even confirm your name and especially never give your birth date or any part of your Social Security number.

Just hang up on such callers.