Beware of phony IRS calls

In the midst of tax season, be on the lookout for fake IRS phone scams targeting unwitting taxpayers like yourself.

The crook who calls poses as an IRS agent, usually demanding immediate payment through a money transfer or a pre-paid debit card. These scammers prey on unwary victims that worry about a possible mistake they’ve made on their taxes and a possible follow-up call from the IRS.

Don’t fall for it!

Here are some things to keep in mind that can help protect you from falling victim to this scam:

  • Scammers can be clever
    The reason so many Americans have fallen victim to tax scams is because these phony calls appear legitimate. The fake IRS agents fool their victims by using fake Caller ID software with a bogus IRS title or badge number. Sometimes the “agents” will know the last four digits of the victim’s Social Security Number or other personal information.

  • The IRS will NOT call or email you
    If the IRS determines that you may owe taxes, or that you may be the target of an audit, they will send you a letter. That’s right – in this digital age, the IRS will use old-fashioned snail mail to inform you of any tax-related issues. If someone calls or emails you claiming to be from the IRS, they are most likely a crook. Make sure you do not open any attachments or click any links in these emails. If you believe you’ve received a phony email, you should forward the scam email to

  • The IRS will never ask for payment over the phone
    If you receive a call from the so-called IRS, do not give out any personal or financial information. Scammers are likely to demand immediate payment via a wire transfer, money order, prepaid debit card or other variations.

  • The IRS is not hostile
    Most reports classify the fake callers as hostile and insulting once the victim begins to question any payments. Remember, the IRS will never demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.

  • Don’t fall for any threats
    Many scam reports consist of harsh threats if payment is not fulfilled. These fake calls generally claim to be the last warning before legal action is taken. The IRS will never threaten to bring in law enforcement to have you arrested for not paying back taxes. In addition, the IRS will not call and threaten to throw you in jail, deport you, or take away your business or driver’s license. These are empty threats and there is no need for you to comply.

  • Screen your phone calls
    This can help you avoid a live phone call with a scammer. However, there have been other reports of scammers leaving voicemails consisting of “urgent” callback requests. The messages may demand the victim to call back and settle their “tax bill” or tell you that you are entitled to a tax refund. This is just another ploy to get victims to share their personal identification information. Do not fall for it and do NOT call back.

  • So what if you really do owe Federal taxes?
    If you believe that you do in fact owe taxes, contact the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS workers, real IRS workers, will be able to help you with any payment questions you may have.

Please share this information with your friends and family so the scam does not continue to find unwitting victims.

If it turns out you’ve been contacted by scammers, do not engage in the conversation. Hang up the phone and report the incident immediately to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 800-366-4484 or at For more information on tax scams to be aware of, please visit the IRS website at