It’s A Scam! Or, Have You Been Called By “The IRS”?

Posted on 01/29/2016

One of our team members has received several different phone calls from someone claiming to be from “The IRS.” Luckily, she knew these calls were a scam and hung up. However, many unlucky folks have unfortunately fallen victim to this sophisticated phone scam targeting taxpayers throughout the country.

Here’s how it works — The caller identifies him or herself as being with the IRS. They tell you that you owe back taxes and have to pay the money immediately through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. Refuse and you’re threatened with arrest, deportation or the suspension of your business or driver’s license. In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting. And if you give the caller your credit card information, they’ll use it to transfer your money into their own pocket.

This scam has hit taxpayers in nearly every state in the country. Rest assured, the IRS does not and will not ask for credit card numbers over the phone, or 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. Almost every legitimate contact with the IRS starts with a letter.

Other characteristics of this scam include:

Scammers use fake names and IRS badge numbers. They generally use common names and surnames to identify themselves.

Scammers can spoof the IRS toll-free number on caller ID to make it appear that it’s the IRS calling.

Scammers sometimes send bogus IRS emails to some victims to support their bogus calls.

Victims hear background noise of other calls being conducted to mimic a call site.

After threatening victims with jail time or driver’s license revocation, scammers hang up and others soon call back pretending to be from the local police or DMV and the caller ID supports their claim.

If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, here’s what you should do:

If you know you owe taxes or you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS at (800) 829-1040. The IRS can help you with a payment issue – if there really is such an issue.

If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to think that you owe any taxes (for example, you’ve never received a bill or the caller made some bogus threats as described above), then call and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at (800) 366-4484.

If you’ve already been targeted by this scam, contact the Federal Trade Commission and use their FTC Complaint Assistant. Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments of your complaint.

The IRS doesn’t initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. If you get an email claiming to be from IRS, don’t open any attachments and don’t click on any of the links. Instead, forward the email to phishing@irs.gov.

The IRS also won’t text you or contact you via social media. And, no real IRS official would ever ask for your PINs, passwords or similar confidential access information for credit card, bank or other financial accounts.