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The IRS Phone Scam – What you Need to Know

January 05, 2015  |   Tax Scams   |   Tags: , ,  

During 2014, when the IRS phone scam spread across the United States, it was dubbed “the largest tax scam of its kind” by J. Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. After many months, despite efforts made by the IRS and law enforcement agencies, the IRS phone scam is still claiming thousands of victims across the nation.

tax phone scam

In this tax scam, victims receive calls from individuals claiming to be with the IRS. They inform the person that they owe taxes, which they must pay immediately. These scammers use aggressive tactics such as intimidation, threats of arrest and other police action to get people to transfer money from their bank account. Given the convincing, high-pressure nature of the call, thousands of people ended up losing money to fraudsters.

To help taxpayers protect themselves from this pervasive phone scam, the IRS has been regularly providing information about it. “This scam has hit taxpayers in nearly every state in the country,” IRS Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel said, “We want to educate taxpayers so they can help protect themselves. Rest assured, we do not and will not ask for credit card numbers over the phone, nor request a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer. If someone unexpectedly calls claiming to be from the IRS and threatens police arrest, deportation or license revocation if you don’t pay immediately, that is a sign that it really isn’t the IRS calling.”

The IRS uses postal mail for initial communications with taxpayers. They do not send emails or call taxpayers over the phone for first-time communications.

Some characteristics of the IRS phone scam that taxpayers should know about are:

  • Scammers use fake names and IRS badge numbers. They may use an IRS agent’s name to seem authentic.
  • A scammer may know the last four digits of your Social Security Number (SSN). They may acquire this information from a person’s taxes or other documents.
  • They have been known to duplicate the IRS’ toll-free numbers on caller ID to make it seem to the receiver that the call is from the IRS.
  • Scammers may follow up calls, sometimes telling the receiver that they are the police. They may use such plots as a way to intimidate.
  • There may be set background noises to mimic a police headquarters, an IRS facility or a call site.

If you receive such a call, you should hang up and not provide any personal information. Do not allow the scammers to talk to you and don’t comply with their demands. Instead, call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 or call the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1-800-366-4484 to inform them about the calls.