“I’ve always filed my taxes on time and never had any issues. Now I’m receiving phone calls from the IRS saying I owe them money. This doesn’t make sense – how can I check this out?” – Camila from Paterson, NJ
While it’s possible that you owe money, what you’re reporting sounds a lot like a recent phone scam being reported by the IRS. Scammers are targeting taxpayers, including recent immigrants, and telling them that they owe money and must repay the funds promptly. If the taxpayer refuses to pay, scammers suggest the person may face arrest, deportation or having their driver’s license suspended.
According to the IRS.gov website, the scammers may:
- Use fake names (often common names and surnames) and IRS badge numbers.
- Be able to recite the last four digits of a victim’s Social Security Number.
- Spoof the IRS toll-free number on caller ID to make it appear that it’s the IRS calling.
- Send bogus emails to support their bogus calls.
- Threaten victims with jail time or driver’s license revocation, then call back later pretending to be from the local police or DMV.
- Play fake background noise of other calls being conducted to mimic a call center.
You should know that the real IRS will never ask you to provide credit card information over the phone, nor to pay via pre-paid debit card or wire transfer. Additionally, true representatives will never threaten you with any consequences (such as arrest) if you do not pay immediately.
If you receive a phone call from someone who claims they work with the IRS, here’s what you should do:
- If you know you owe taxes or you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS at (800) 829-1040. The IRS employees at that line can help you with a payment issue if one exists.
- If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to think that you do, call and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at (800) 366-4484. You should also contact the Federal Trade Commission and use their “FTC Complaint Assistant” at FTC.gov. Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments of your complaint.
In general, we encourage you to be wary anytime someone calls you and asks you to provide personal details or financial information over the phone. If you’re not sure, hang up and call the official number for the company or organization – their customer service teams will be able to tell you the truth about your status and let you know if you owe money.