IRS: Scam Phone Calls Persist; Here are 5 Easy Ways to Spot Them

More than four months have passed since April 15, but the Internal Revenue Service issued a consumer alert Thursday alerting taxpayers that phone scams persist, with many callers saying you owe money or have a refund due.

These scammers may be calling and pretending to be with the IRS. But they’re not.
These callers usually either demand money or say you have a refund due and try to trick you into sharing private information.
They can sound convincing, the IRS said today in a statement. The callers may know a lot about you, and they usually alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling.
The even use fake names and bogus IRS identification badge numbers. If you don’t answer, they often leave an “urgent” callback request.
“These telephone scams are being seen in every part of the country, and we urge people not to be deceived by these threatening phone calls,” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said. “We have formal processes in place for people with tax issues. The IRS respects taxpayer rights, and these angry, shake-down calls are not how we do business.”
The IRS is reminding the public that there are five things the scammers often do — but the IRS will not do. Any one of these five things is a tell-tale sign of a scam. The IRS will never:

  • Call you about taxes you owe without first mailing you an official notice.
  • 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.

If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money, here’s what you should do:

  • If you know you owe taxes or think you might owe, call the IRS at 1.800.829.1040. The IRS workers can help you with a payment issue.
  • If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to believe that you do, report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 1.800.366.4484 or at www.tigta.gov.
  • If you’ve been targeted by this scam, also contact the Federal Trade Commission and use their “FTC Complaint Assistant” at FTC.gov. Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments of your complaint.

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