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IRS Calling? No! It's a Scam. Here's What to Do.

Last updated: March 27, 2015

Near the top of the IRS's annual "Dirty Dozen" list of tax scams are phone calls from criminals impersonating IRS agents. In these calls, the scam artists claim that you owe money on your taxes and demand immediate payment and may threaten police arrest, deportation, license revocation and other things. Often they demand that payment be made by prepaid debit card.

In a similar type of call, the scam artists may say that you have a refund and try to get you to disclose your personal information such as social security and bank account numbers.

Here's How to Know That the Call Is a Fake

The IRS will never:

  • Call to demand immediate payment. They will not call about taxes owed without first having sent a bill by regular or certified mail. Also, the IRS does not use email, text messages, or any social media to discuss bills or refunds.

  • Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.

  • Require you to use a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card.

  • Ask for credit card and debit card numbers over the phone.

  • Threaten to bring in local police or law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.

What Should You Do if You Get a Phone Call?

Hang up without giving out any information. Then protect yourself by doing the following:

  • If you know or think you might owe taxes, call your accountant or the IRS at 1-800-829-1040. IRS workers can help you with payment issues.

  • If you know that you don't owe taxes or don't believe you do, report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 1-800-366-4484 or at

  • Report the scam to the Federal Trade Commission using the FTC Complaint Assistant.

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