IRS phone scam carries threats if
payment not made immediately

February 25, 2015
Santa Paula News

The phone rings and caller ID reads IRS… to many people the most dreaded three initials in the English language.

When they answer an IRS agent tells them that they owe taxes that must be paid immediately. 

Hang up fast… it’s a scam, just the latest that often targets those most vulnerable, the elderly and new immigrants.

And these scammers play tough threatening arrest, deportation or the loss of their driver’s license if the “tax debt” is not paid immediately.

The telephone tax scam is at the top of the IRS’s “Dirty Dozen” list this year, a scam that has been reported since 2013 but has seen a surge in recent months.

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), which oversees the IRS, has received reports of 290,000 scam calls since October 2013 that victimized about 3,000 people that were swindled out of $14 million — and the number will climb as the scammers make more and more such calls.

They look authentic: it’s easy to alter a caller ID number to make it appear the call is coming from an IRS office. Some scammers have even been known to carry it further by claiming to be from the IRS Criminal Division, or alter their caller ID to read DMV or Police to further persuade those they’ve already targeted to pay up or respectively lose their driver’s license or be arrested.

Not home or don’t answer? They’ll leave a message that notes it is urgent that you get in touch with the IRS agent immediately. 

They might claim they know your Social Security number and will follow-up with threatening emails that appear to be from the IRS.

Like their authentic counterpart, they are interested in your money but the difference is they’ll do anything to steal it from you, often demanding payments be made via non-traceable prepaid debit cards.

On the flip side an IRS scammer might call and say you have a refund coming — but you have to provide personal information so you can claim it, which will lead to identity theft and even raiding your bank account if they ask for an account number so the refund can be automatically deposited.

If the real IRS needs to contact you they will send a letter. The real IRS never demands payment be made immediately by phone nor will it accept credit or debit cards used over the phone for payment.

If you get a call from someone claiming to be with the IRS asking for a payment, here’s what to do: if you owe Federal taxes, or think you might owe taxes, hang up and call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS workers can help you with your payment questions. If you don’t owe taxes, call and report the incident to TIGTA at 800-366-4484.

You should forward scam IRS emails to

Don’t open any attachments or click on any links in those or any other emails you receive.

If you get what you suspect is a scam call, report it to TIGTA through its Web site or call 800-366-4484.

You can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at  — add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments in your complaint.

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