Consumers Warned of IRS Phone Scam

Consumers Warned of IRS Phone Scam

February 12, 2015         Written By Bill Hardekopf

We are two months away from the April 15 tax deadline, and scammers are working overtime to steal your money by scaring you with a new phone scheme.

The Internal Revenue Service says scammers are impersonating IRS representatives by gathering detailed information about someone, then calling that person and demanding immediate payment.

They also pretend to be local law enforcement and threaten to immediately arrest you unless you send cash or a money order for back taxes they say you owe.

The thieves use phone spoofing to make their number on caller ID appear as “IRS” or “Internal Revenue Service”. Through either searching online or using stolen data, the scammers will have the last four digits of your Social Security number. Looking like they are from the IRS and having part of your social security number makes them look legitimate.

They may also use other tactics to further their “credibility”, such as sending fake e-mails from the IRS, citing a badge number and a believable name, or giving you a fake phone number to call that verifies their ID.

The scammer will instruct you to immediately submit payment by prepaid debit card or wire transfer, claiming you will be arrested or lose your home. Over 1,000 people have fallen victim to the scam, losing over $5 million according to the IRS.

If you receive a call like this, know the IRS does not work this way.

“If someone calls unexpectedly claiming to be from the IRS with aggressive threats if you don’t pay immediately, it’s a scam artist calling,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen in a statement.

The IRS will never:

* Call to demand immediate payment, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.

* Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.

* Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.

* Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

* Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.

The IRS will first contact you through the mail if they are seeking payment for penalties or fees. If you ever have a question, go to the website and use the contact numbers to report them. You can also report any incident like this to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 1-800-366-4484 or at the TIGTA website.

The information contained within this article was accurate as of February 12, 2015. For up-to-date
information on any of the terms, cards or offers mentioned above, visit the issuer's website.


About Bill Hardekopf

Bill Hardekopf is the CEO of and covers the credit card industry from all perspectives. Bill has been involved with personal finance for over 15 years. He is a frequent contributor to Forbes, The Street and The Christian Science Monitor.
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