Most people have received a phone call from a person with a very ominous voice who claims to work with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and demands quick payment by phone, threatening jail time if you do not comply. He may or may not know some of your personal information, but he will always bark orders.
These phone calls are especially terrifying for immigrants, who are highly vulnerable to fraud from creepy con artists or infamous “notarios.”
Victims of this scams are told they can pay what they supposedly owe the IRS with a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. They are then threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business tax ID or even driver’s license. All of this is communicated with great hostility.
Be aware that scammers can be very convincing because:
- They identify themselves with “American-sounding” fake names and IRS badge numbers.
- They may know some of your information, such as the last four digits of your social security number, ITIN or business tax ID.
- They can make it appear as if the toll-free number on your caller ID was generated from the IRS.
- They sometimes send false IRS emails to their intended victims.
- The phone call sounds like it originated from a busy call center.
- After threatening victims with jail time or driver’s license revocation, they will hang up, and someone else will call, pretending to be from the local police or DMV.
Always keep in mind that the IRS never initiates contact through the telephone, email or social media. Most IRS communication comes via U.S. mail.
Additionally, the IRS does not request personal or financial information through electronic communication, such as text messages or social media.
The IRS will never ask for PINs, passwords or access to confidential information from credit card, bank or financial accounts.
You should not open any attachments or click on any links in an email that claims to be from the IRS. This scam conducted by email is called “phishing.” To report suspected IRS fraud immediately, simply forward the email to email@example.com.
You can also report these scams by calling the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484. You can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission by following this link for their FTC Complaint Assistant. When the complaint involves someone impersonating an IRS agent, include the words “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.