IRS Warns of “Largest Ever” Phone Scam

Callers claim to represent the IRS and demand payments

The Internal Revenue Service is warning taxpayers about callers who claim to represent the IRS and demand payments with a prepaid debit card or wire transfer.

The voice on the other end of the phone line claims you owe taxes and there are criminal charges against you. The caller warns you must pay up immediately or face arrest or deportation, but it’s a fraudulent attempt by impersonators to scare you out of your money.

Treasury Inspector General for Taxpayer Administration (TIGTA) J. Russell George said it is the “largest ever” scam of its kind.

According to a press release, George noted that TIGTA has received reports of more than 20,000 contacts and has become aware of thousands of victims who have collectively paid more than $1 million as a result of the scam.

Government officials said the callers who commit this fraud often know the last four digits of the victim’s Social Security Number and make caller ID information appear as if the IRS is calling.

“If someone unexpectedly calls claiming to be from the IRS and uses threatening language if you don’t pay immediately, that is a sign that it really isn’t the IRS calling,” George said.

The IRS usually first contacts people by mail about unpaid taxes and it will not ask for a credit card number over the phone, according to the press release.

If you owe Federal taxes and receive a call from someone claiming to be with the IRS asking for payment, TIGTA urges you to hang up and call the IRS at 800-829-1040. 

If you don’t owe taxes, you can call and report the incident to TIGTA at 800-366-4484.  You can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at  Add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments in your complaint.

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