Taxpayers need to be more vigilant than ever before due to the surge in devious phone scams targeting individuals, from college students to senior citizens, in nearly every state. Victims are typically informed that they owe money to the IRS that must be paid promptly. If the victim refuses, the callers become hostile and threaten with arrest, deportation, drivers or business license suspensions, or other actions.
In addition to the hostile tone, other signs that indicate the call is a scam include the following (as noted in the IRS.gov newsroom feature "IRS Warns of Pervasive Telephone Scam"):
Scammers use fake IRS badge numbers and generally common names.
Scammers may be able to recite the last four digits of your Social Security Number.
Scammers may spoof the IRS toll-free number on caller ID to make it appear the IRS is calling.
Scammers may follow up the call with a phony IRS email.
Scammers request payment immediately via wire transfer or pre-loaded debit card.
Victims hear background noises of other calls being conducted to mimic a call site.
Scammers follow up on threats by having others call back pretending to be from the local police or DMV.
Following are key items to know and share with family and friends:
The IRS initially contacts taxpayers via mail, never by phone.
The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email. Do not open any attachments or click on IRS email links regardless of how official the email appears. Instead, forward the email to email@example.com
The IRS does not request personal or financial information, PINs, passwords, or similar confidential access information for credit cards, banks, or other financial accounts.
Never provide your SSN, credit card, or banking information to anyone unless you initiate a call.
If you owe taxes or think you may owe taxes, call the IRS directly at 1.800.829.1040 to check on your tax record.
Be aware that there are other unrelated scams including lottery, sweepstakes, and solicitations (including debt relief). These may involve someone fraudulently claiming to be from the IRS to collect taxes prior to receiving alleged winnings.
Report suspicious calls to the Treasury Inspector General for Administration at 1.800.366.4484.