IRS Tax Scams

Impersonation Telephone Scam

An aggressive and sophisticated phone scam targeting taxpayers, including recent immigrants, has been making the rounds throughout the country. Callers claim to be employees of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), but are not. These con artists can sound convincing when they call. They use fake names and bogus IRS identification badge numbers. They may know a lot about their targeted victim(s), and they usually alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling.

Victims are told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. If the victim refuses to cooperate, they are then threatened with arrest, deportation, or suspension of a business or driver’s license. In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting.

Or, victims may be told they are due a refund to try to trick them into sharing private information. If the phone is not answered, the scammers often leave an urgent callback request.

Protect Yourself

The IRS will never:

  • Call to demand immediate payment, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.
  • Demand you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question 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 over the phone.
  • Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.

Impact of Scams

Since October 2013, when the IRS started tracking complaints, more than 3,000 people have fallen victim to the scam, sending criminals $15.5 million. The average loss is $5,000 per victim.

These phone scams have hurt victims in almost every state. The top five states in terms of total dollar losses so far are:

  • California ($3.84 million)
  • New York ($1.35 million)
  • Texas ($795,884)
  • Florida ($760,000)
  • Virginia ($648,363)

Report Scams

If you get what you suspect is a scam call, report it to the Treasury Inspector General Tax Administration (TIGTA) or call 800-366-4484. If you become a victim and experience a financial loss contact your local police department and file a report.

More Information

To learn more about other IRS related tax scams visit IRS - Tax Scams and Consumer Alerts.