These callers may demand money and try to coerce you into sharing private information, such as your bank account numbers, or debit / credit card information. They can sound quite convincing when they call. They may already know a lot about you, and they usually spoof the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling from a 202 area code number in Washington, DC. They use fake names and bogus IRS identification badge numbers. If you don’t answer, they often leave an “urgent” callback request.
What are IRS Telephone Scams?
“These telephone scams are being seen in every part of the country, and we urge people not to be deceived by these threatening phone calls,” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said. “We have formal processes in place for people with tax issues. The IRS respects taxpayer rights, and these angry, shake-down calls are not how we do business.” Source
You can know pretty easily when a supposed IRS caller is a fake. Here are five things the scammers often do but the IRS will not do. Any one of these five things is a tell-tale sign of a scam.
Avoiding IRS Telephone Scams
The IRS will never:
- Call to demand immediate payment, nor will we call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a detailed bill.
- Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question the bill, or appeal the amount they say you owe.
- Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
- Ask for credit or debit card numbers or bank account numbers over the phone.
- Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
What to do if victim of IRS Telephone Scam?
If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money, here’s what you should do:
If you know you owe taxes or think you might owe, call IRS customer service at 1-800-829-0922 M – F 7am – 7pm. The representative will ask questions to verify your identity, research your account status, and help you resolve any payment issue.
The IRS collections branch (Automated Collections Service, or ACS)
The IRS collections branch (Automated Collections Service, or ACS) will rarely make outbound calls to Taxpayers, where telephone contact information is available and prior correspondence has not prompted a response. These are calls to delinquent Taxpayers with unpaid tax liabilities and / or unfiled returns, who have not responded to numerous notices asking for payment.
If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to believe that you do, report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 1-800-366-4484, or at www.tigta.gov. The “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” link is in red on the right side of the TIGTA home page.
FTC Complaint Assistant
You can file a complaint using the FTC Complaint Assistant; choose “Other” and then “Impostor Scams.” If the complaint involves someone impersonating the IRS, include the words “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes. Link to FTC 2014 article.
The IRS does not use unsolicited email, text messages, or any social media to discuss your personal tax issue, including refunds or balance due issues.