The phone calls sounds threatening. Someone calls claiming to be from the IRS and tells you to pay immediately or you could face anything from arrest to deportation and other threats. But the call is nothing but a scam, the IRS said this week.
The IRS said the calls often include people spoofing called ID to make their number look like a legitimate call from the IRS. Federal investigators said the scammers use fake names, bogus IRS badge numbers, and other identification to try to get you to pay up.
In some cases, the scammers would leave urgent messages urging callers to call back or face penalties.
According to the Treasury Department, the inspector general for tax administration has received approximately 290,000 contacts about the scams since October 2013. The IRS said that 3,000 victims have collectively paid over $14 million as a result of the scam.
"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."
The IRS said there are several things to know to help you protect yourself. The IRS said it 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.
If you do get a call, the IRS said to do the following things:
- 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 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.