The IRS warned of a new twist on an old phone scam as criminals use telephone numbers that mimic IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers to trick taxpayers into paying non-existent tax bills.
In the latest version of the phone scam, criminals claim to be calling from a local IRS TAC office. Scam artists have programmed their computers to display the TAC telephone number, which appears on the taxpayer’s Caller ID when the call is made.
If the taxpayer questions their demand for tax payment, the scammer directs the taxpayer to IRS.gov to look up the local TAC office telephone number to verify the phone number. The crooks hang up, wait a short time and then call back, as they are able to “spoof” the Caller ID to appear to be the IRS office calling. After the taxpayer has “verified” the call number, the fraudsters resume their demands for money, generally demanding payment on a debit card.
Fraudsters also have been similarly spoofing sheriff’s offices, state Department of Motor Vehicles, federal agencies and others to convince taxpayers the call is legitimate.
IRS employees at TAC offices do not make calls to taxpayers to demand payment of overdue tax bills. The IRS reminds taxpayers it typically initiates most contacts through regular mail delivered by the U.S. Postal Service.
The IRS and its Security Summit partners – the state tax agencies and the tax industry – urge taxpayers to remain alert to tax scams year-round, especially immediately after the tax filing season ends.
There are special, limited circumstances in which the IRS will call or come to a home or business, such as when a taxpayer has an overdue tax bill, to secure a delinquent tax return or a delinquent employment tax payment, or to tour a business as part of an audit or during criminal investigations.
Even then, taxpayers will generally first receive several letters (or “notices”) from the IRS in the mail.
Note that the IRS does not demand a tax payment without the opportunity to question or appeal the amount said to be owed. Generally, the IRS will first mail bills to those who owe taxes.
Be advised of your rights as a taxpayer: The IRS will not threaten to bring in local police, immigration officers or other law enforcement to have you arrested for not paying. The IRS cannot revoke a driver’s license, business licenses or immigration status. Threats like these are common tactics scam artists use to trick victims into buying into their schemes.
Taxpayers who receive the IRS phone scam or any IRS impersonation scam should report it to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at its IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting site and to the IRS by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “IRS Phone Scam.”
If you owe taxes, make payments to the United States Treasury or review IRS.gov/payments for IRS online options.