As parents and students start to adjust to an autumn full of text books, meal plans, and tuition payments, fraudsters use the opportunity to scam victims for their money and, sometimes, identities. IRS scams happen year-round, but an influx of calls happen in the early fall months, concerning the “Federal Student Tax.” If you’ve never heard of this tax, you’re not alone. It doesn’t exist. It starts with a fraudster contacting a student or their parent. They claim they’re from the IRS, and report that the student has yet to pay the fictitious tax. If the caller doesn’t wire money immediately, they are threatened with legal action against the student. In a state of panic, the victim will settle the issue by sending the fraudster the demanded money.
This scam has proven successful, but with knowledge and awareness, it can be an easy scam to avoid. To help yourself notice and prevent the Federal Student Tax Scam, follow these important rules:
- If you don’t know the number, let the call go to voicemail. If it’s important, they’ll leave you a message. Phone scams typically occur only when the call is active.
- The number calling you, isn’t necessarily the real number. Phone scammers have the ability to spoof any number that’d encourage you the most to answer the call. It can even be your own number.
- No company or organization will force a caller to pay in gift cards or to wire money. If you’re suggested to do one of these, hang up the phone.
- Never disclose your personal information over the phone unless you initiated the call.
- If the IRS needs you to pay a bill, they’ll mail you a letter. If you answer a call from them, hang up, research the IRS’s official number, and call back to check on the call’s legitimacy.
If you feel that you have fallen victim to any of these scams, contact your financial institution, the authorities, and the Federal Trade Commission.
For current security alerts and more tips on how to protect yourself against identity theft, scams, or other security threats, visit our Security and Privacy page.