Generally, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) contacts taxpayers via the United States Postal Service. So, while it is possible to receive a phone call or office or business visit from IRS agents, they will typically not do so without sending one or many notices through the mail.
That said, if you receive an unsolicited phone call, email, or text message from someone claiming to be with the IRS, there is a possibility it is a scam. For such fraudulent calls, take the following steps.
- Hang up immediately: Even if you receive a legitimate call from an IRS agent, be assured that they will not ask for any personal information or demand that you pay your taxes via credit, debit, or prepaid card or wire transfer. The IRS uses an official system known as Direct Pay where taxpayers can log in, verify their details, and make an electronic payment. For fraudulent calls, hang up immediately and do not provide any information.
- Report the incident: Go to The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) website and file an official complaint using their online form. Make sure to follow the instructions and include the name of the caller, caller ID, the callback telephone number you were given, and a recap of the conversation. If the scammer claimed to be an IRS agent, include their name, badge number, department, and date and time of the call. Alternatively, you can report the fraudulent call to email@example.com using the subject IRS Phone Scam.
- Contact your local Attorney General’s office: You can report the fraudulent call using the consumer complaint form. However, you should note that depending on where you live, the reporting mechanism and process for a scam phone call from the IRS may vary.
Tactics Used by IRS Phone Call Scammers
To further understand how scammers work, we have compiled a few tips as approved by the IRS to help you avoid being a victim of phishing. Watch out for these signs that you may be getting a scam phone call from the IRS:
- Making unsolicited phone calls: As already established, one of our tips is to hang up if someone calls pretending to be the IRS. The IRS will not initiate contact with a taxpayer unless they have sent a written notice to alert you to any tax debt or issue. Scammers, on the other hand, call without reason—usually before and after the tax filing season. They may also leave urgent call back requests if you are unavailable.
- Threatening their targets: Scammers may use intimidation and bullying as a weapon to coerce their targets into making payments for fake debts. They may threaten to have you arrested by the police or deported by immigration. These types of threats can be an indication of a scam caller, as the IRS does not make threats of arrest when contacting people for payment.
- Using spoofing techniques: IRS scammers may use caller ID spoofing to make these calls look official. Thus, it may look like the IRS or another government agency is behind the call. To sound even more legitimate, they may know the last four digits of your social security number, name, address, and other personal details. Still, refrain from giving them additional details or confirming anything.
How to Protect Yourself from Scams
If you owe taxes and are confused about the legitimacy of the phone call, hang up and call the IRS telephone assistance hotline directly at 800-829-1040. The agent you speak to will answer any questions you may have about tax debts, payments, and all the relevant processes involved.
On the other hand, if you do not owe taxes, you can call 800-366-4484 to report the incident to the TIGTA. Or, go to the Federal Trade Commission and file a complaint using the “FTC Complaint Assistant option.”
A Lawyer Can Help You Navigate a Scam Phone Call from the IRS
If you believe you are a target of an IRS scam, you may want to hire a lawyer to help you deal with the process and help you evaluate the damages.
McKenzie Law Firm, P.C. may be able to provide you legal guidance or services if you are dealing with an IRS scammer.
Take advantage of our 24/7 availability and call us now at (610) 680-7842 for a free consultation. A member of our team can help you weigh your legal options—whether you have already lost money to these scammers or not.