Scams

IRS Warns of New Phone Scam

Taxpayers are being told to pay money they don't owe or face harsh consequences.

Scammers are calling people across the country claiming that they owe money to the IRS and making threats including arrest if they don't pay up, according to the IRS. This sophisticated new telephone scam has hit taxpayers -- including recent immigrants -- in nearly every state.

Victims are told that they must pay money they owe to the IRS through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. The claims seem legitimate because scammers manipulate caller ID systems to make it appear as if the calls originate from the IRS. They may even be able to recite the last four digits of a victim's Social Security number, according to the IRS.

Those who refuse to cooperate are told that their license will be revoked, they will be arrested, or they will be deported if they are immigrants. The scammers will call back and pretend to be from the local police precinct or department of motor vehicles. Again, the caller ID will falsely support their claim.

However, the IRS does not ask for credit card numbers over the phone or request pre-paid debit cards or wire transfers, said IRS Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel in a written statement. In fact, the IRS usually initiates contact with taxpayers via old-fashioned snail mail, he said.

The IRS recommends that you take the following steps if you get a suspicious call:

Call the IRS directly at 800-829-1040 if you think you might owe taxes or know that you do. IRS employees can help you with a payment issue if one exists.

Report the scam call to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484 and the Federal Trade Commission's Complaint Assistant. Add "IRS Telephone Scam" to the comments of your FTC complaint.

This phone scam is just one of many in which con artists fraudulently claim to be from the IRS to get people to part with their money or personal information. Here are several other similar scams:

A Web site that mimics the IRS e-Services online registration page. This fake site aims to steal taxpayers' personal information. The actual e-Services page provides Web-based products for tax preparers, not the general public. Fake sites also end in .com, .net or .org, instead of .gov.

A combination e-mail and text message that warns recipients that a federal tax transaction initiated from the checking account was rejected by the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System. Recipients are prompted to respond using a link to a malicious Web site.

An e-mail claiming recipients will be penalized up to $10,000 for failing to file a tax return on time. The e-mail references a filing deadline of January and directs people to a fake IRS site that asks for personal information.

To protect yourself against these and other scams, be aware that the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by e-mail, text messages or social media. Do not open any attachments or click on any links in e-mails or text messages that appear to be from the IRS. Forward such messages to phishing@irs.gov. And do not provide passwords, PINs or confidential access information for credit card, bank or other financial accounts to people or Web sites claiming to represent the IRS because the IRS never asks for this information.

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