Beware of IRS Scams during Tax Season

There are always taxpayer phone and email scams going around throughout the year. However, they tend to intensify during the tax filing season. Scammers prey upon those that are most vulnerable such as the elderly, recent immigrants, and those whose first language is not English.Scam Alert

IRS Telephone Scam: Persons claiming to be from the IRS call numerous taxpayers each year. In fact, the IRS estimates that upwards of 3000 people have been victimized by this scam and been defrauded of over $14 million. Here is how the scam usually works:

1. A taxpayer receives an unsolicited call with a caller ID altered to make it appear as if it is from the IRS.
2. The caller introduces himself/herself using a common fake surname and fake IRS badge number.
3. The caller knows the name of the victim and can often produce the last four digits of their Social Security number.
4. The caller claims the victim owes a certain sum of money to the IRS and demanding immediate payment.
5. The caller tells the victim they must pay right away using a pre-paid debit card or bank wire transfer.
6. If the victim refuses to pay, the caller threatens them with driver’s license revocation or jail time and hangs up. Then later, they call again with caller ID altered to show the local police department or DMV.

Throughout the call, the caller is aggressive and resorts to all types of threats and intimidation to coerce the victim into paying the sum they claim due.

IRS Phishing Email Scam: Another common scam that has been happening for quite a while is email that claims to be from the IRS. The email could contain any number of subject lines indicating that the taxpayer either owes money or is entitled to a big refund. With some of these scams, email is used in conjunction with a text message. The purpose of all IRS email phishing scams is to lure taxpayers into giving up their personal or financial information.

Protecting yourself from an IRS Scam: If you receive an unsolicited call, text, or email claiming to be from the IRS, keep in mind the following:

• The first contact the IRS usually makes with taxpayers for unpaid taxes is by mail.
• The IRS will never ask for a payment using a pre-paid debit card or bank wire transfer and will never ask for a credit card payment by phone.
• The IRS does not threaten to bring in the police or other law enforcement for failure to pay your taxes.
• The IRS generally does not initiate contact with taxpayers via text or email to solicit personal/financial information.

If you receive a phone call from someone claiming to represent the IRS, do not engage the caller. Hang up on them and do one of the following:

• If you have a tax bill and think you might owe something to the IRS, call (800) 829-1040 and speak with an agent about your tax situation.
• If you are certain you do not owe any current or back taxes to the IRS, contact the office of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Information (TIGTA) at (800) 366-4484 or
• You should also report the scam to the Federal Trade Commission and using the FTC Complaint Assistant at

If you receive any type of unsolicited text or email claiming to be from the IRS, do not open any attachments or click on any links and report the incident to the IRS by emailing them at

If you need further information about IRS phone and email phishing scams, contact your local tax professional for more details.

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