IRS, Partners Urge Taxpayers to Beware of IRS Impersonations and Tax Scams

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If you get a call from the “IRS” threatening you with lawsuits or jail unless you pay up immediately … Guess what? It’s a scam.

IRS impersonation and tax scams by phone, email, postal mail and text are ongoing. Criminals use more and more creative ploys to trick taxpayers and tax preparers. Don’t be a victim.

The IRS, state tax agencies and the private-sector tax industry are asking for your help in the effort to combat identity theft and fraudulent returns. Working in partnership with you, we can make a difference.

That’s why for the second year in a row, we launched a public awareness campaign that we call “Taxes. Security. Together.” And, we’ve launched a series of security awareness tips that can help protect you from cybercriminals.

The IRS doesn’t initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text message or social media channels to request personal or financial information. This includes requests for PIN numbers, passwords or similar access information for credit cards, banks or other financial accounts.

Here are five things the scammers often do but the IRS will not do. Any one of these five things is a tell-tale sign of a scam.

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.

If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money, here’s what you should do:

If you don’t owe taxes, or have no reason to think that you do:

  • Do not give out any information. Hang up immediately.
  • Contact TIGTA to report the call. Use their “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” web page. You can also call 800-366-4484.
  • Report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on FTC.gov. Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.

If you know you owe, or think you may owe tax:

  • Call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS workers can help you.

Stay alert to scams that use the IRS as a lure. Tax scams can happen any time of year, not just at tax time. For more, visit “Tax Scams and Consumer Alerts” on IRS.gov.

By Meg Chevalier, a senior tax specialist in the Providence office of the Internal Revenue Service

By Meg Chevalier, a senior tax specialist in the Providence office of the Internal Revenue Service

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