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Payroll Today

Identity thieves strike again, targeting the deaf and hard of hearing

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Alice Gilman

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in Payroll Today

It’s hard enough having a hearing problem, as everyone who attended a Who concert in the ’70s can attest. (Pete Townsend’s ears are still ringing and so are mine). The IRS is now reporting that identity thieves are using video relay services (VRS) to try to scam individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. When is enough enough with scammers?

Help your Hard of hearing employees

Deaf and hard of hearing individuals have been left out of the tax-scam equation, until now. Hard of hearing employees are like everyone else in this respect—they shouldn’t give out personal or financial information to a stranger. They should confirm the identity of anyone who requests their personal information.

However, there are some special considerations that deaf and hard of hearing employees must take into account. Stress to your hard of hearing employees that they shouldn’t trust calls just because they’re made through video relay service, or VRS, the translation system that lets sign language users and audible speakers converse.

Crucial: VRS interpreters don’t screen calls for validity.

Hard of hearing employees who think they’ve received a suspicious call should call the IRS. What’s suspicious? A call demanding payment in a specific way (e.g., by prepaid debit card or by asking for credit card numbers), threatening action by local law enforcement or demanding that taxes be paid without the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed

IRS contact: Deaf and hard of hearing people can call the IRS at (800) 829-1040 through VRS. IRS employees can help with a payment issue or confirm if there really is a tax issue.

Employees who know they don’t owe taxes or have no reason to think that they owe any taxes should report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, or TIGTA, at (800) 366-4484.

Employees can also file a complaint using the FTC Complaint Assistant. If the complaint involves someone impersonating the IRS, include the words “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.

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