Telephone Taxpayer Scam Alert

Telephone Taxpayer Scam Alert

Taxpayer scams are getting more and more sophisticated as the perpetrators are often organized crime syndicates often outside the U.S.  A new and dangerous one involves criminals posing as IRS agents.  According to the IRS these criminals are calling more than 10,000 people every week!  People of all backgrounds are being victimized by this scam – including some of the best educated and most intelligent!  They are insidious and employ chilling fear tactics.


The Call:

The call often shows on the caller ID with a 202 area code – which is Washington DC where it IRS is headquartered – or an 800 number that shows “IRS”.  The caller gives “their” name and “IRS badge number”.  They often have the last four digits of the taxpayer’s social security number.  Victims may hear noise in the background that sounds like a call center.


The Scam:

They tell the person who answers the phone that they have defrauded the government, owe money and it must be paid immediately via a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer.  If the call goes into voice mail a very threatening message is left with a call back number.


The Threat:

If the victim does not cooperate they are threatened with arrest, deportation, bank account freezes, liens on home, and/or revocation of a driver’s business license.  They say there is a warrant for their arrest.  They become hostile.  They hang up and a different person calls pretending to be from the local police or DMV and supports the information and threat that the original caller made.



The IRS NEVER asks for credit card numbers over the phone, nor be they request a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer.  When there is a legitimate issue, the taxpayer is initially contacted by mail.  The initial contact is NEVER by phone or in person.  The IRS says if you get a call from someone claiming to be with the IRS demanding immediate payment and threatening you with arrest, you are being scammed and need to hang up the phone.


What to Do Next:

  • Try to remain calm and not succumb to the fear tactics. They are counting on this fear to get you to act before you logically think through the situation.
  • If you think you owe or might owe taxes, call your accountant and/or the IRS at 800-829-1040. They will tell you if you owe taxes and if so how to pay them.
  • If you know you don’t owe taxes call and report the incident to the Treasure Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484.
  • You can file a complaint using the FTC Complaint Assistant; choose “Other” and then “Imposter Scams.” If the complaint involves someone impersonating the IRS, include the words “IRS Telephone Scam.”


Taxpayer scams will continue to get more and more sophisticated.  You need to be vigilant in your affairs and thoughtful and calm even when the caller and information seems dire.