Tax season also means scam season. Thousands of people have lost millions of dollars and personal data to tax-related scams. New variations of scams appear every year so it’s important to remain alert and follow tax scam tips provided directly by the IRS.
IRS “phishing” scams are typically phone calls or emails that claim to come from the IRS. Fraudsters use the lure of fake refunds or threats of a tax bill or audit to pressure victims to give up personal and financial information. This personal data is used to steal the victim’s money or identity.
Telltale signs of a scam
The IRS (and its authorized private collection agencies) will never:
- Call you without mailing an official notice first.
- Demand that you immediately pay your taxes over the phone.
- Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have the taxpayer arrested for not paying.
- Claim to be able to suspend or cancel your Social Security Number.
- Demand that taxes be paid without giving the taxpayer the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.
- Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
- Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. The IRS does not accept these payment methods for taxes. Generally, the IRS will first mail a bill to any taxpayer who owes taxes. All tax payments should only be made payable to the U.S. Treasury and checks should never be made payable to third parties.
- Use text messages or social media to discuss personal tax issues, such as those involving bills or refunds.
Tax scam tips
The IRS offers the following tips to help keep you safe:
- Fraudsters may know a lot about you when they call and may be able to spoof your caller ID to show that they are calling from an official number. Don’t be fooled.
- If you don’t answer the phone, they may leave an urgent callback request. Call the IRS hotline at 800.829.1040. Do not call the number left in the message.
- If you receive a call that you think might be from the IRS, take down the agent’s information and call them back using the official IRS phone: 800.829.1040.
For any questions about owing money to the IRS, contact a qualified tax expert or call the IRS directly using their official hotline:
If you believe that you (or someone you know) have been the recipient of tax-related phishing or phone scams, you’re encouraged to report the incident to the IRS. Learn more.
Additional information about fraud and identity theft is also available from the Federal Trade Commission.
If you receive a questionable call and are unsure what to do, please reach out to us.