Taxpayers who get unexpected or unsolicited phone calls from the IRS should be very hesitant – it’s probably a scam. Phone calls continue to be one of the most common ways that thieves try to get you to provide personal information. These scammers then use that information to gain access to the victim’s bank or other accounts.
When a taxpayer answers the phone, it might be a recording or an actual person claiming to be from the IRS. Sometimes the scammer tells the taxpayer they owe money and must pay right away. They might also say the person has a refund waiting, and then they ask for bank account information over the phone.
Taxpayers should not take the bait and fall for this trick. Here are several tips that will help you avoid becoming a scam victim.
The real IRS will not:
- Call to demand immediate payment
- Call someone if they owe taxes without first sending a bill in the mail
- Demand tax payment and not allow the taxpayer to question or appeal the amount owed
- Require that someone pay their taxes a certain way, such as with a prepaid debit card
- Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone
- Threaten to bring in local police or other agencies to arrest a taxpayer who doesn’t pay
- Threaten a lawsuit
Taxpayers who don’t owe taxes, or who have no reason to think they do, should follow these steps:
- Use the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration’s IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting web page to report the incident
- Report it to the Federal Trade Commission with the FTC Complaint Assistant on FTC.gov
Taxpayers who think they might actually owe taxes should follow these steps:
- Ask for a call back number and an employee badge number
- Call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040
If you have questions or concerns, contact your professional tax advisor.
Danette Holguin, EA