Smishing – a term most Indiana Department of Revenue (DOR) customers haven’t heard before, but an important one to recognize this tax season.
What is smishing? It’s a phone scam done through text message (SMS) and it’s a growing security risk.
Scammers aren’t just calling these days, they’re now using mobile technology to try and steal sensitive information.
This means customers need to continue to be alert in order to identify a scam regardless of how its received – call, text, letter or email. Unsuspected calls continue to be the most frequent way scammers claim individuals have bogus, unpaid tax bills. These callers often threaten people with some sort of pressure packed law enforcement or legal action to gain access to financial information or receive a quick payday.
“If you get a phone call or a text message claiming to be someone from DOR or the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) demanding action immediately, do not take the bait,” advised DOR Commissioner Bob Grennes. “Criminals try to pressure victims into taking action by stating how your tax filing is overdue to get you to disclose personal or financial information. They may also straight-up ask for funds through a wire transfer, prepaid debit cards or gift cards.
“Remember, neither agency will contact you by text message or threaten a taxpayer for not paying or filing.”
The federal government’s Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) reports that over 2.4 million intended victims have received scam calls claiming to be from a government agency since 2013. These scam calls have resulted in 14,500 victims who have lost more than $72 million.
“If you have an outstanding tax liability with the state of Indiana, DOR will contact you first by mail,” added Commissioner Grennes. “Our customer service specialists will then work with you to answer questions and resolve the issue. Hoosiers who have questions about letters, calls or text messages appearing to come from either DOR or the IRS, should call the agency directly to confirm which actions need to be taken.”
Hoosiers should be aware that DOR and the IRS will never:
• Call or text demanding immediate payment using a specific payment method, such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the taxpayer will receive a bill in the mail if taxes are owed.
• Demand individuals pay taxes without the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.
• Threaten to bring in local police, immigration officers or other law enforcement to have the taxpayer arrested for refusing payment or not filing.
• Threaten to revoke a taxpayer’s driver’s license, business licenses or immigration status.
• Call about an unexpected refund.
• Use text messaging to request any information from a taxpayer.
If taxpayers think they are the target of a phone or smishing scam:
• Do not give the caller any personal information and hang up immediately.
• Do not respond or click on any suspicious links in the text message and delete.
• Call TIGTA at 800-366-4484 or report online here.
• Report to DOR by email at email@example.com or by phone at 317-232-2240.
To confirm any claims made by a potential scammer, contact the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 or DOR Customer Service at 317-232-2240, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. EST.