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July 28, 2022


When the IRS calls: How to recognize a phone scam

As we discussed in a recent post, IRS phone scams are becoming an increasingly common way to target vulnerable individuals. Scammers, pretending to be from the IRS, may try to contact you by phone, claiming you owe a certain sum – and requesting your information to pay over the phone. The scammers then use your information to steal your money and/or your identity.

Such scammers can be quite sophisticated, and they may use certain tactics that make you believe they are legitimate. In today’s post, we examine some of the telltale signs that the person on the other end of the line is a scam artist – not a representative of the IRS:

  • The IRS won’t call you without warning: If there is a real tax issue, the IRS may try to call you. However, they will first try to reach you by other means first – usually a letter. The IRS will never try to reach you by email or text.
  • The IRS won’t pressure you to pay immediately: If you legitimately owe money to the IRS, you will have time to gather the necessary funds. You may even be able to set up a payment installment plan over months or years. Demanding payment within 24 hours is a red flag.
  • The IRS won’t ask for payment over the phone: In fact, the IRS won’t ask for any of your personal information over the phone. Anyone asking for your bank account or credit card information, or requesting payment through an unusual method – such as a wire transfer or gift card – is highly suspicious.
  • The IRS won’t threaten you: If the person on the phone claims that you could be arrested if you don’t pay, this is very likely a scam. Scammers use threats, pressure, and scare tactics. The IRS does not.
  • The IRS will give you a chance to appeal: If the IRS actually finds something that appears to be wrong with your tax filing, they will notify you of this accusation. Being arrested without facing due process under the law is illegal – and the IRS does not operate this way.

Encountering a potential legal conflict with the IRS can be scary. It’s important to be able to discern fact from fiction. In cases of real legal trouble, an experienced tax attorney can help.

Identity Theft