IRS Issues a New Phone Scam Warning

The IRS issued a warning to the public about phone scams.  The scammers are making unsolicited phone calls to individuals falsely claiming to be the IRS.  The scammer will claim taxes are owed and request an immediate payment by wire transfer or debit card.  The calls are typically hostile and abusive.

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) has received an estimated 90,000 complaints about the phone scams.  About $5 million has been stolen from about 1,100 victims.

Fake IRS Call

Victims have provided information to TIGTA about the scams.  A call will be made to the taxpayer.  The scammers may use a method known as spoofing so that the number on the caller ID shows a toll-free number.  The caller may provide a fake IRS badge number and have access to personal information such as the last four digits of the social security number.  There may be background noise heard on the other line to mimic a call center.  The scammers will claim there is a large tax balance owed or a tax refund due.  Then there will be a request for personal information to pay the tax balances or for direct deposit of the tax refund.  If the taxpayer does not comply, the scammer will start to get hostile and threaten the taxpayer with jail time or revoking their driver’s license.  The scammer may angrily hang up and then call back as a local police officer or employee of DMV.

IRS Does Not Request Phone Payments

If you receive an unsuspecting call about your IRS taxes, consider this.  You normally receive an IRS letter about overdue taxes well before the IRS calls you.  The IRS doesn’t accept credit card payments or wire transfer payments over the phone.  There only three ways to pay IRS taxes: by mailing a check, direct debit by filing Form 433-D, or by using the IRS Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS).  Generally, the IRS does not threaten people with jail time or revoking your driver’s license.

Protect yourself by following these tips.  If you get a questionable call, hang up and call the IRS general hotline at 800-829-1040.  IRS employees can address your concerns.  Report the incident to TIGTA at 800-366-4484.  Finally, you can file a formal complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at