The IRS Is Calling! Here’s What to Do

There’s nothing quite like getting a call from the IRS to make your heart skip a beat.

Then imagine what it would feel like if they told you that you owe back taxes and a warrant has been issued for your arrest?

Unfortunately, these threatening calls are a reality for many Americans. Only it’s not what you think. They aren’t IRS agents, and their claims are phony.

Relax, it’s not the IRS

The rash of IRS calls sweeping the nation is part of a massive scam. In fact, it’s No. 1 on the list of “dirty dozen” tax scams.

Typically, these phony calls use one of these scenarios:

  • The caller needs to verify your tax return and asks for your Social Security number and other personal data.
  • You’re entitled to a refund, but you need to provide your Social Security number first.
  • A warrant has been issued for your arrest, but you can avoid it by buying a prepaid card to make payment today.

It may seem legitimate. According to the IRS:

These con artists can sound convincing when they call. They use fake names and bogus IRS identification badge numbers. They may know a lot about their targets, and they usually alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling.

Don’t be fooled. The IRS will never, ever call you out of the blue. You can be practically guaranteed that any random call you get from an “IRS agent” is fake.

The criminals are after one of two things: your money or your identity. In the first two scenarios above, they want you to provide your personal information for identity theft reasons. In the last scenario they’re trying to steal from you. Prepaid cards and wire transfers seem to be their preferred method of payment because these make it easy for them to take your money and run.

What to do if you get a call

So what do you do if you get a call?

Do the same as you would with any other unwanted caller: hang up. Personally, I wouldn’t engage them because that may encourage them to keep calling back.

However, if you’re not content to simply ignore the calls, ask for the person’s name, badge number and a number where they can be reached. Then, call the IRS at 1-800-366-4484 to see if this person is in fact an agent. You can also report the incident on the website for the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.

In the event you’re concerned you may actually owe taxes or your return wasn’t processed right, you can call the main IRS hotline (be prepared to hold) at 1-800-829-1040 to check on the status of your account.

Of course, phone calls are only one way criminals are trying to take advantage of you. They may also be sending you emails, letters and texts. Fortunately, the IRS has put together this chart to help you figure out to respond.

Have you received a phony call from someone claiming to be an IRS agent? Share your experience in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
21 Thrift Store Gems You Can Cash In On
21 Thrift Store Gems You Can Cash In On

Here’s what to look for at that overstuffed thrift store — and how you can make money from it.

The 5 States With the Worst Health Care for Retirees
The 5 States With the Worst Health Care for Retirees

All of these states are located in the same region of the nation.

7 Reasons Workers Age 65 and Older Have Not Retired Yet
7 Reasons Workers Age 65 and Older Have Not Retired Yet

For some, the golden years are a time to increase the gold — but their reasons for delaying retirement vary widely.

5 Medicare Mistakes to Avoid for a Healthy Retirement
5 Medicare Mistakes to Avoid for a Healthy Retirement

Medicare can be confusing. Beware these missteps — which can hike your costs.

9 Things You Should Never Pay For With a Debit Card
9 Things You Should Never Pay For With a Debit Card

Use your debit card for one of these expenses, and you could risk your bank account balance, your credit score or even identity fraud.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco
11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco

This leader in bulk shopping is a great place to find discounts in the fixed-income years.

Over 50? The CDC Says You Need These 4 Vaccines
Over 50? The CDC Says You Need These 4 Vaccines

Fall is the time to schedule vaccines that can keep you healthy — and even save your life.

11 Household Items That Go Bad — or Become Dangerous
11 Household Items That Go Bad — or Become Dangerous

When you get the impulse to stockpile these everyday items, pay close attention to their expiration dates.

11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older
11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older

There is no need to wait until you’re 65 to take advantage of so-called “senior” discounts.

8 Things You Can Get for Free at Pharmacies
8 Things You Can Get for Free at Pharmacies

In this age of higher-priced drugs and complex health care systems, a trip to the pharmacy can spark worry. Freebies sure do help.

7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast
7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast

Your financial security might soon depend upon the strength of your credit score.

These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020
These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020

Medicare Advantage customers themselves rate these plans highest.

The 10 Most Commonly Stolen Vehicles in America
The 10 Most Commonly Stolen Vehicles in America

A new model parks atop the list of vehicles that thieves love to pilfer.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

These jobs pay more than the typical job in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required.

The 15 Worst States for Retirees in 2020
The 15 Worst States for Retirees in 2020

Based on dozens of metrics tied to affordability, quality of life and health care, these are not ideal places to spend retirement.

9 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday
9 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday

These items are all steeply discounted — but the deals won’t last long.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

26 States That Do Not Tax Social Security Income
26 States That Do Not Tax Social Security Income

These states won’t tax any of your Social Security income — and in some cases, other types of retirement income.

10 Reasons Why You Should Actually Retire at 62
10 Reasons Why You Should Actually Retire at 62

If you can, here are several good reasons to retire earlier than we’re told to.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles
5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles

Pushing your car to 200,000 miles — and beyond — can save you piles of cash. Here’s how to get there.

5 Things That Make Life More Meaningful for Retirees
5 Things That Make Life More Meaningful for Retirees

Retirees agree: These are the things that give them purpose and fulfillment in their golden years.

15 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now
15 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.