The scammers impersonating the IRS aren’t scaling back. Their tactics range from alerting people that they owe money and must send payment immediately, to telling people that they’re receiving a large refund and requesting their bank account information.
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration says that approximately 1,100 taxpayers have lost an estimated $5 million from these scams.
The IRS is reminding taxpayers that the agency doesn’t contact people via phone, but through official correspondence sent through the mail. The IRS also never asks for credit card, debit card or prepaid card information over the telephone, never insists that taxpayers use a specific payment method to pay, and never requests immediate payment over the telephone.
The scammers’ tactics are advanced, and they often include the following:
- Using fake names and IRS badge numbers.
- Reciting (correctly) the last four digits of a victim’s Social Security number.
- Imitating the IRS toll-free number on caller ID to make it appear that the call is from the IRS.
- Sending fake IRS emails to support fake calls.
- After threatening victims with jail time or driver’s license revocation, scammers often hang up and have someone else call back pretending to be from the local police or DMV (they rig the caller ID to support their claim).
Scammers also use email to try to get information or money. The IRS never initiates contact with taxpayers by email, and never requests PINs, passwords or other information for credit card, bank, or other financial accounts.
If you are targeted with spam activity, you should take action:
- If you know you owe taxes or you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS directly at 1.800.829.1040. The IRS employees at that number can tell you if there is a legitimate issue and can help you.
- If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to think that you owe any taxes, then call and report the incident to TIGTA at 1.800.366.4484.
- Also, if you’ve been targeted by a scam, you should 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.
- If you receive an email from someone you suspect is a scammer, don’t open any attachments or click on any links in the message. Instead, forward the e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.