Victims may be told they owe money to the IRS. If the victim refuses to cooperate, they may be threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver's license. In many cases, the caller becomes aggressive and insulting.
“These crooks will go to no end to try and scam you out of divulging personal information—including checking account numbers and other types of bank account information,” said Clay Sanford, an IRS spokesman in Dallas. “Don't fall victim to these misleading attempts to steal your identity and hard-earned cash.”
If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, here's what you should do:
• If you know you owe taxes or you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS at 1.800.829.1040. The IRS employees at that line can help you with a payment issue – if there really is such an issue.
• If you know you don't owe taxes or have no reason to think that you owe any taxes (for example, you've never received a bill or the caller made some bogus threats as described above), then call and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1.800.366.4484.
• If you've been targeted by this 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.
Taxpayers should be aware that there are other unrelated scams (such as a lottery sweepstakes) and solicitations (such as debt relief) that fraudulently claim to be from the IRS.
“This is tax season and people have tax returns on their minds,” Sanford added. “Be alert to phone and email scams that use the IRS as a lure.”
The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. This includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels. The IRS also does not ask for PINs, passwords or similar confidential access information for credit card, bank or other financial accounts. Recipients should not open any attachments or click on any links contained in the message. Instead, forward the e-mail to email@example.com.
More information on how to report phishing scams involving the IRS is available on the genuine IRS website, IRS.gov.