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.