Scammers continuing to pose as IRS agents
Tax season may be over, but scammers posing as IRS officials continue to call, saying people owe taxes and better pay up. They threaten to arrest or deport people, revoke a license, or even shut down a business. How do they do it? By rigging caller ID information to appear as if the IRS is calling, and sometimes even making a follow-up call claiming to be the police or the DMV.
We posted about this last month, and got a tremendous response from readers. Lots of people wrote to tell us about variations of the scam: robocalls from “Heather” from the IRS, or calls claiming to be from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) and mentioning IRS codes. But the scam always ends the same way: a demand for money loaded on a prepaid debit card, sent through a wire transfer, or paid by credit card.
If you get a call or email like this, report it. Here’s how:
- Report the incident to TIGTA online or at 800-366-4484.
- File a formal complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov/complaint. From the complaint homepage, select “Other” and then “Imposter Scams.” In the notes, please include “IRS Telephone Scam.”
- If it’s an email, forward it to the IRS at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t open any attachments or click on any links in those emails.
- If you owe — or think you owe — federal taxes, call the IRS at 800-829-1040 or go to irs.gov. IRS workers can help you with your payment questions.
The IRS doesn’t ask people to pay with prepaid debit cards or wire transfers, and doesn’t ask for credit card numbers over the phone. When the IRS contacts people about unpaid taxes, they do it by postal mail, not by phone. Read Government Imposter Scams for more tips on avoiding a scam.
And what if you got a robocall from Heather or someone else? In addition to reporting it:
- Hang up the phone. Don't press 1 to speak to a live operator and don't press any other number to get your number off the list. If you respond by pressing any number, it will probably just lead to more robocalls.
- Consider contacting your phone provider and asking them to block the number, and whether they charge for that service. Remember that telemarketers change Caller ID information easily and often, so it might not be worth paying a fee to block a number that will change.