IRS Phone Scam Warning

It can happen to anyone. The phone caller says he’s with the IRS, knows the last four digits of your Social Security number and gives you an IRS badge number. Then he tells you to pay taxes with a wire transfer, or  pre-paid debit card and you end up sending money to a scammer.

The IRS just issued a warning to be aware of these scam calls. It has identified what it describes as the largest telephone fraud scam operation ever.  More than 20,000 people say they’ve been contacted. Not all were victimized, but those who were lost over $1 million collectively. 

Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration J. Russell George says, “The increasing number of people receiving these unsolicited calls from individuals who fraudulently claim to represent the IRS is alarming.  At all times, and particularly during the tax filing season, we want to make sure that innocent taxpayers are alert to this scam so they are not harmed by these criminals. “

So far no one has been arrested in connected with this scheme.  Here’s what they do:

  • They use common names and fake IRS badge numbers.
  • They know the last four digits of the your Social Security number.
  • They use techniques to make caller ID information appear as if the IRS is calling.
  • They send phony IRS e-mails to support their scam.
  • They call a second time claiming to be the police or department of motor vehicles, and the caller ID again supports their claim.


If you are called by a scammer this is what to do:

  1. If you owe Federal taxes, or think you might owe taxes, hang up and call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS workers can help you with your payment questions.
  2. If you don’t owe taxes, call and report the incident to TIGTA at 800-366-4484.
  3. You can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at Add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments in your complaint.

Inspector General George puts it best, “Do not become a victim.”

Let us know if you have a story to share.



Published by

Barbara Nevins Taylor

As the winner of 22 Emmy Awards and a slew of journalism honors and awards, I created to give you the straight story about complicated stuff. Tell us what you want to know and we'll get you the answers.