The IRS Phone Scam: Does the IRS Call You?

October 25, 2017 : Allie Freeland

With impersonations at a record high, you may have already encountered an IRS phone scam from an impersonator via phone, text, or other means. Each day, scammers use more and more advanced tactics to trick taxpayers into giving away personal information and money.

In fact, IRS phone scams is on the IRS’ Dirty Dozen list of the most common scams. As of February, 2017, over 10,000 victims have paid in excess of $54 Million to the scammers.  That’s an average of $5,400 per individual.

Luckily, the IRS adheres to the following protocols and modes of communication – which allows taxpayers to better identify an IRS representative from a fraudster.

 

Fact 1: The IRS Never Initiates Contact Via Phone

The IRS initiates most contacts through regular mail delivered by the United States Postal Service.

 

Fact 2: The IRS Will Not Ask Certain Things Over the Phone

The IRS behaves in predicted ways. In fact, the IRS will never call you and…

  • Ask for personal information, like your Social Security number, credit card or bank routing numbers, or other personal information.
  • Inquire about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.
  • Ask for an immediate tax payment over the phone. Typically, the IRS will first mail a bill to any taxpayer who owes taxes.
  • Demand that you owe a certain amount of money in delinquent taxes, without the opportunity to appeal. (Remember: you have certain rights as a taxpayer.)
  • Threaten to bring in local police or other law enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.

 

Fact 3: Special Circumstances of Phone Calls Do Arise

There are special circumstances where the IRS will call or visit your home or business. Instances where this may be the case are if:

  • You have an overdue tax bill
  • You have a delinquent tax return
  • You have a delinquent employment tax payment
  • If you are under criminal investigation for tax fraud
  • You are being audited

Even so, you will receive IRS notices in the mail prior to the call or visit.

 

What Actions Can You Take?

So, if you find yourself in a situation where you believe someone is impersonating the IRS to obtain your personal information, hang up the phone then take the following actions:

  • Leverage Tax Identity Shield® by H&R Block – our agents can help members identify next steps to take.
  • Report the incident to the following:
    • Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration: Do it online or via phone at 800-366-4484.
    • The Federal Trade Commission: Use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on FTC.gov. Make sure to include “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.
    • The IRS at phishing@irs.gov

It is always wise to select a qualified and trustworthy Tax Professional who can help answer questions about contact with the IRS and assist you. A quality advisor can spot a fraudulent call and help you take the appropriate action.

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Allie Freeland

Allie Freeland

Contributing Editor, H&R Block

Allie is the Contributing Editor of the H&R Block blog, Block Talk. She has been a practicing grammar geek since 2007.