If someone calls you on the phone claiming to be from the
IRS, says that you owe the back taxes, and demands that you pay
immediately with a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer, hang-up the phone
. The caller is a fraudster participating in what the IRS says is the largest tax scam of its kind.
To date, these fraudsters have taken
in thousands of victims who have paid them over $1 million. Needless to
say, these thieves are not from the IRS. They prey particularly on
immigrants and the elderly, often threatening their victims with arrest,
deportation, or suspension of a business or driver’s license if they
don’t pay them. They often become hostile and insulting in their attempt
to intimidate their victims.
The IRS says that
the thieves who run this scam often use sophisticated means to make it
appear they are legitimate. For example, they:
- use common names and fake IRS badge numbers
- know the last four digits of your Social Security number
- make caller ID appear as if the IRS is calling
- send bogus IRS emails to support their fake calls, or
- call a second time claiming to be the police or department of motor vehicle with caller ID again to support their claim.
Things the Real IRS Does Not Do
IRS makes very limited use of email or the phone when dealing with
taxpayers. It usually first contacts people by postal mail about unpaid
taxes, not by phone or email. So if you get a call from someone claiming
to be from the IRS stating that you owe taxes, and this is the first
time you’ve heard about it, the caller is almost certainly a scammer.
the IRS normally gets paid by check or credit card. It never asks
taxpayers for payment via pre-paid debit cards or wire transfers. Nor
will the IRS ever ask you for your credit card number over the phone.
IRS never sends emails requesting your personal or financial
information, including PINs, passwords, or similar confidential
information for credit card, bank, or other accounts. So never respond
to emails requesting such information.
What To Do When a Scammer Calls
hang up the phone if you get a call from a suspected scammer who claims
to be with the IRS and demands that you pay back taxes. Give the thief
absolutely no financial or other information. He or she may be seeking
not only to steal your money, but take your identity as well. Here’s
what you should do next:
- if you owe, or think
you might owe federal taxes, call the IRS at 800-829-1040; IRS workers
can help you with your payment questions
- if you don’t owe taxes, call and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484.
You can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at FTC.gov
. Add "IRS Telephone Scam" to the comments in your complaint.