The rush of the tax filing season may be over, but tax scams do not end with the tax season. The IRS phone scam continues to victimize taxpayers. Fraudsters make phone calls to taxpayers, pretending to be IRS agents, and inform them that they owe back taxes and instruct the individual to transfer money to them. If a taxpayer refuses or protests, the scammers use intimidation and threats to pressure him or her into acting.
Taxpayers face the threat of this tax scam at any time because it is highly profitable for fraudsters year round. Unlike the filing of fraudulent tax returns that typically occurs during the tax season, the IRS phone scam can be carried out any time of the year.
It’s important to understand that the IRS does not make phone calls to taxpayers to inform them that they owe back taxes. They send a notice that includes the debt amount and how it can be paid. The IRS never:
- Demands immediate payment
- Demands payment without giving the opportunity to question or appeal
- Asks for a specific payment method, such as a prepaid debit card
- Asks for credit or debit card numbers over the phone
- Threatens law-enforcement action for not paying
Taxpayers should never share any personal, financial or tax information with any unverified sources. It’s critical to keep this type of information secure at all times. Before responding to any information requests, the identity of the party in question should always be verified.
Calls with requests for information should be ended immediately. Report the phone number to a law enforcement agency, US Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, (TIGTA) at 1-800-366-4484 or at www.tigta.gov, the Federal Trade Commission, or the IRS.
If you do owe back taxes or think that you might owe, call the IRS directly at 1-800-829-1040 instead of replying to an unverified communication.