The IRS has issued a warning about a pervasive phone scam. The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) called it the largest scam of its kind. It has received reports of over 20,000 contacts related to this scam, and thousands of victims have paid over $1 million to fraudsters claiming to be from the IRS.
In this scam, the thief poses as an IRS agent and makes an unsolicited call to the target. The caller tells the victim that he or she owes taxes to the IRS. The caller demands that the victim pay the money immediately with a preloaded debit card or wire transfer. The caller often threatens the victim with arrest, deportation, or suspension of a business or driver’s license. In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting. Thieves who run this scam often:
- Use common names and fake IRS badge numbers.
- Know the last four digits of the victim’s Social Security Number.
- Make caller ID appear as if the IRS is calling.
- Send bogus IRS e-mails to support the bogus calls.
- Call a second time claiming to be the police or department of motor vehicles. The caller ID again appears to support their claim.
You should know that the IRS usually first contacts people by mail, not by phone, about unpaid taxes. Most importantly, an IRS agent will never ask for:
- PINs, passwords, or similar confidential information for credit card, bank, or other accounts.
- Payment using a prepaid debit card or wire transfer.
- A credit card number over the phone.
If you get a call from someone who claims to be with the IRS asking you to pay back taxes, hang up.
If you owe or think you might owe federal taxes, call the IRS at (800) 829-1040 or call us for help. If you don’t owe taxes, call and report the incident to the TIGTA at (800) 366-4484.