Innocent people may receive aggressive and threatening phone calls or emails from criminals impersonating IRS agents. They demand that the victim pay a bogus tax bill. They con the victim into sending cash, usually through a wire transfer or a prepaid debit card or gift card, like an iTunes card. They often threaten police arrest, deportation, and driver’s license revocation, among other things.
On the other hand, they may claim that a refund is owed and ask for bank account information in order to direct deposit the refund. In fact, the account information is used to steal the victim's identity.
These scammers often alter caller ID numbers to make it look like the IRS or another agency is calling. They use IRS employee titles and fake badge numbers to appear legitimate. They may use the victim’s name, address and other personal information to make the call sound official. They may also leave “urgent” callback requests.
Some emails link to sham websites that look real. The scammers’ goal is to lure victims to give up their personal and financial information. If they get what they’re after, they use it to steal a victim’s money and their identity.
The IRS advises people to hang up the phone.
If you get a ‘phishing’ email, the IRS advises:
Any of these is a tell-tale sign of a scam:
The IRS will never:
When Are IRS Phone Calls Legitimate?
IRS revenue officers work directly with taxpayers to educate them about their options to resolve delinquencies and to collect delinquent taxes and tax returns, while protecting taxpayers' rights.
IRS revenue agents or tax compliance officers may call a taxpayer or tax professional after mailing a notice to confirm an appointment or to discuss items for a scheduled audit.
Private debt collectors can call taxpayers for the collection of certain outstanding inactive tax liabilities but only after the taxpayer and their representative has received written notice. Private debt collectors for the IRS must respect taxpayers' rights and abide by the consumer protection provisions of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
When are IRS Visits Legitimate?
IRS revenue officers routinely make unannounced visits to a taxpayer’s home or place of business to discuss tax matters. IRS revenue officers will request payment of taxes owed by the taxpayer; however, payment will never be requested to a source other than the US Treasury.
IRS revenue agents usually visit taxpayers or tax professionals to conduct the audit after either mailing a notice and/or agreeing on the day and time. IRS revenue agents will sometimes make unannounced visits to a taxpayer’s home or place of business to discuss a tax matter. They will not demand payment.
Ask For Credentials
IRS representatives can always provide two forms of official credentials: a pocket commission and a Personal Identity Verification Credential (PIV). Pocket commissions describe the specific authority and responsibilities of the authorized holder. The PIV is a government-wide standard for secure and reliable forms of identification for federal employees and contractors. Criminal investigators also have a badge and law enforcement credentials.
All tax payments are to the U.S. Treasury. Taxpayers should never use a preloaded debit card or wire transfer to make a payment. The IRS provides specific guidelines on how to make a tax payment at irs.gov/payments.
For taxpayers who don’t owe taxes or don’t think they do:
For those who owe taxes or think they do: