IRS Warns Taxpayers about Phone Scams

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Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

With the tax filing deadline of Wednesday, April 15, 2015 less than two weeks away, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is warning taxpayers not to be fooled by phone scams using fake names, bogus IRS badge numbers, and altered caller IDs to make it appear the IRS is calling and asking for money. These scam artists threaten police arrest, deportation, and license revocation among other threats over the phone.

“This is no April Fool’s joke. Everyone should be on the lookout for threatening calls from people faking IRS phone numbers and demands for immediate payment,” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen stated in a news release from the IRS dated March 31, 2015. “These are scams. I urge taxpayers to stay vigilant and remain aware of the constantly changing tactics used by these criminals.”

The IRS warns these scam artists often leave “urgent” callback requests and sometimes prey on the most vulnerable people such as the elderly, newly arrived immigrants, and those whose English is a not a first language. Scammers also have been known to impersonate agents from IRS Criminal Investigation as well. In the warning, the IRS reveals five things the scammers often do but that the IRS will not do.

  • The IRS will not call to demand immediate payment, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed taxpayers a bill.
  • The IRS will not demand that taxpayers pay taxes without giving them the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say taxpayers owe.
  • The IRS will not require taxpayers to use a specific payment method for taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
  • The IRS will not ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
  • The IRS will not threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have taxpayers arrested for not paying.

If taxpayers do receive a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money, the IRS suggests:

  • If taxpayers know they owe taxes or think they might owe, call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040. The IRS workers can help them with a payment issue.
  • If taxpayers know they do not owe taxes or have no reason to believe that they do, report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 1-800-366-4484 or report it online at the IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting Page.
  • If taxpayers have been targeted by this scam, also contact the Federal Trade Commission and use their FTC Complaint Assistant at FTC.gov. If the complaint involves someone impersonating the IRS, include the words “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.

The IRS also warns they do not use email, text messages, or any social media to discuss personal tax issue involving bills or refunds. For more information on reporting tax scams, go to www.IRS.gov and type “scam” in the search box. Additional information about tax scams is available on IRS social media sites including YouTube.

As reported by the ESR News blog in April 2014, the IRS Criminal Investigation started 295 new identity theft investigations since that filing season began in January 2014, pushing the number of active identity theft cases to more than 1,800. The investigations were part of a larger effort by the IRS to combat identity theft and refund fraud, one of the fastest growing crimes nationwide.

IRS Tax Scams Just One Form of Identity Theft & Fraud

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