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IRS Warns of Scams Targeting Non-English Speaking Taxpayers

We haven’t covered tax-related identity theft in a few weeks, but it’s time to once again see what the belly-crawling identity thieves are doing to steal personally identifiable information.

Fraudsters have set their sights on non-English speaking taxpayers, according to Internal Revenue Service. The news came in a press release announcing that a number of resources—Direct Pay, Where’s My Refund, and Reporting Phishing and Online Scams to name a few—were available in a number of languages. In the spirit of 2020, let’s take a look at this fresh bit of bad news.

How are scammers targeting non-English speakers?

The IRS says that scammers targeting non-English speakers have been relying on intimidation and alienation in recent phishing attempts. This approach, the agency suspects, is because these taxpayers may be vulnerable for a number of reasons.

“IRS impersonators and other scammers target people with limited access to information, including individuals not entirely comfortable with the English language,” the IRS explains. “These scams are often threatening in nature and pose a major threat to these communities.”

Robocalls—it would seem—are the perfect vehicle for delivering threats that are designed to make someone feel isolated. Some of these IRS-impersonating robocalls will even recite some bit of the victim’s PII—often that person’s address or Social—to make the message seem legitimate. Some security-minded folks might be tempted to call the provided number if a voice from the uncanny valley seemingly knows who they are and threatens arrest.

The IRS acknowledges that not all of these phishing calls are automated, and they even point out that some taxpayers could receive similarly threatening emails or text messages. That’s why it’s important to know the existence of these scams and how to spot them. And if you have clients who have been targeted by these scams, remind them to report the incident to the IRS.

Source: IR-2020-143

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