According to the Internal Revenue Service, aggressive and threatening phone calls by criminals impersonating IRS agents remain a major threat to taxpayers during the 2017 filing season. During filing season, the IRS generally sees a surge in scam phone calls that threaten police arrest, deportation, license revocation and other things. The IRS reminds taxpayers to guard against scams that pick up during tax season. The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) reports they have become aware of over 10,000 victims who have collectively paid over $54 million as a result of phone scams since October 2013.
Many phone scams use threats to intimidate and bully a victim into paying. They may also leave “urgent” callback requests through phone “robo-calls,” or via a phishing email. Scammers often alter caller ID numbers to make it look like the IRS or another agency is calling. The callers use IRS employee titles and fake badge numbers to appear legitimate. They may use the victim’s name, address and other personal information to make the call sound official.
Following are things the scammers often do but the IRS will never do:
- Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail a bill to any taxpayer who owes taxes.
- Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have the taxpayer arrested for not paying.
- Demand that taxes be paid without giving the taxpayer the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.
- Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
If you believe you have been contacted by an IRS phone scammer, remember the following:
- Do not give out any information and hang up immediately.
- Contact TIGTA to report the call. You can call them at 800-366-4484 or reach them online at https://www.treasury.gov/tigta/contact_report_scam.shtml.
- Report it to the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov.
Stay alert to scams that use the IRS as a lure during tax season as well as the rest of the year. If you have been the victim of any scam, it is important to report it to law enforcement.