Fake IRS Phone Calls Defrauding Taxpayers of Millions

Phone scam surges during tax season, tops IRS list of “Dirty Dozen” tax scams for 2015.

The IRS warns taxpayers about an increasing number of tax scams in communities across the country. For even more information go to IRS.gov and type “scam” in the search box.

If someone claiming to be an IRS agent calls and demands that you send a tax payment immediately, hang up. The IRS issued a warning this month that consumers across the nation are receiving a surge of aggressive, threatening phone calls from criminals impersonating IRS agents who demand immediate payment, sometimes under threat of arrest.

“If someone calls unexpectedly claiming to be from the IRS with aggressive threats if you don’t pay immediately, it’s a scam artist calling,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “The first IRS contact with taxpayers is usually through the mail. Taxpayers have rights, and this is not how we do business.”

These phone scams remain near the top of the IRS’s annual “Dirty Dozen” list of tax scams. The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) has recorded nearly 3,000 victims who have collectively been defrauded out of over $14 million.

Scammers alter their caller ID to make it look like the IRS calling, and use fake names and bogus badge numbers. They often leave “urgent” callback requests.

The IRS wants consumers to know that its agents will never:

  • Call to demand immediate payment, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.
  • Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
  • Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
  • Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
  • Use email, text messages, or any social media to discuss your personal tax issue involving bills or refunds.

The IRS also warns of phone scams asking for important personal information like social security numbers — sometimes claiming the consumer is due a refund — which can lead to identity theft.

Questions about this story? Contact James Pearson: 206.340.4790, jpearson@nwcua.org.