What You Need To Know About Scammers Impersonating the IRS on the Phone

Closeup of a man talking on the phone illustrates blog "Scammers Impersonating the IRS on the Phone: What You Need To Know"

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is the federal agency responsible for administering and enforcing the nation’s tax laws. Unfortunately, scammers and fraudsters have found a way to exploit the agency’s reputation and use it to perpetrate fraud schemes. Here’s what you need to know about this scheme. 

How IRS Phone Scams Work

Scammers use different tactics to defraud taxpayers, but the most common method is to mimic the IRS. They call unsuspecting victims, often telling them they owe back taxes or claiming there is an issue with their tax return. 

The scammer then demands immediate payment or threatens legal action, including arrest, deportation, or revocation of their driver’s license. 

They may also ask for personal or financial information to “verify” the target’s identity or eligibility for a refund. These calls often use scare tactics or urgency to get the victim to act quickly without verifying the validity of the caller or the information provided.

How To Spot an IRS Phone Scam

Knowing the red flags of a scam call can help you avoid becoming a victim. Some common signs of an IRS phone scam include:

  • A caller who demands immediate payment over the phone or threatens legal action.
  • A caller who uses aggressive or abusive language, or speaks in a robotic or scripted tone.
  • A caller who claims to be from the IRS but doesn’t know your name or other personal details.
  • A caller who asks for sensitive information, such as your Social Security number, bank account number, or credit card information.
  • A caller who asks you to transfer money or buy gift cards or other prepaid cards.

What To Do if You Receive an IRS Phone Scam Call

If you receive a call from someone who claims to be from the IRS and you suspect it’s a fraudulent call, don’t panic or engage with the caller. Here are some steps you can take to protect yourself:

  • Hang up immediately
  • Don’t give out any personal information
  • Don’t make any payment or transfer money
  • If possible, note the caller ID information or the number the caller used
  • Report the call to the IRS and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
  • How to report an IRS phone scam

Reporting IRS phone scams is essential to help law enforcement catch the perpetrators and prevent them from defrauding others. 

If you think you’ve been targeted by an IRS phone scam, report it to the IRS by email at phishing@irs.gov (Subject: IRS Phone Scam). Make sure to include the number of the caller, any phone number you are instructed to call, and a brief description of the communication.

JT Tax Services: Taxes Made Easy

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