Scam “IRS” Phone Calls Continue

by Barbara Nevins Taylor

An alert from the IRS warns that “IRS” scam phone calls continue to plague consumers despite government efforts to track down and arrest the people behind them. The warning is important, but it also means that those of us who get the calls must make sure we don’t fall for threats and demands for our money.

Scammers may call anyone. But they frequently target people over 55.

Usually, a caller will demand money you owe. Or they may say that the IRS owes you a refund. They want you to wire money or give out your personal information such as bank account or Social Security numbers. They sound convincing, offer fake IRS badge numbers and sometimes the caller I.D. even pops up as IRS.  That’s another part of the scam. It’s called phone spoofing. They figure out ways to make the calls seem legitimate.

But the IRS doesn’t call you to demand money, or to say you have a refund coming. That’s the first thing you should remember, even if you get a little rattled by the call.

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen says,“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. 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 created this list of 5 things that it never does:

1. Call you about taxes you owe without first mailing you an official notice.
2. Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
3. Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
4. Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
5. Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.

What To Do if You Get a Scam Call

  • If you know you owe taxes or think you might owe, call the IRS at1.800.829.1040. 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 scammers called you, 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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Barbara Nevins Taylor

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