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The information in this article is up to date for tax year 2023 (returns filed in 2024).

With the tax season in full swing, it’s prime time for scammers to try to steal your money and your personal information. Thousands of people have fallen for tax scams and lost millions of dollars in the process.  Often criminals impersonate IRS agents to trick you into paying for taxes or fees you don’t really owe.  Let us show you the warning signs of an IRS phone scam so you don’t fall into the trap.

How do the scams work?

There are numerous tactics criminals use to scam you out of your money.  Usually, they’ll tell you about a bogus tax bill and demand that you pay immediately to avoid dire consequences. However, there are other variations of the scam.  You may receive a robocall threatening to cancel or suspend your Social Security number.  Other times, IRS impersonators will claim they received your tax return and need to verify some information before it can be processed.  Any details you provide will be stolen. 

Easy ways to spot an IRS scam

They call, text or contact you on social media first

Received a text message from the IRS about an unpaid tax bill? It’s highly unlikely! The IRS is very old school.  Generally, when you owe taxes, their first course of action is to mail a bill to your home address. They will not ask you for personal or financial information over the phone, email or social media.

You aren’t given a chance to appeal the amount owed

Is the caller demanding you to make an immediate payment? That is a huge red flag that something isn’t right.  If you receive a notice from the IRS and don’t agree with their findings, you’re given a chance to ask questions or appeal the amount owed.  Your notice will even provide specific instructions for handling the situation.

It’s required that you pay using a specific method

Once you hear that you must pay using a specific method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer, just know it’s a scam.  The real IRS does not accept these methods for tax payments.  If you used ezTaxReturn to prepare your return and have a balance due, you can log into your account to review your payment options.

They threaten to have you deported, arrested or your license revoked

Scammers know people will do almost anything when they’re scared.  That’s why they threaten to have you arrested, deported or your license revoked unless you pay them right away.  Anyone can be scammed, but fraudsters tend to target seniors and recent immigrants because they have limited access to information. Let’s be clear, the IRS will not threaten you or demand immediate payment.  If you have any questions or concerns, you can call the IRS at 800-829-1040.

How to report the fraudulent call

If you know for a fact that you don’t owe any taxes, here are the steps you need to take.

  1. Don’t entertain the caller just hang up.
  2. Inform the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) about the call using their “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” page. 
  3. Report the incident using the FTC Complaint Assistant and write “IRS Telephone Scam” in the comments.

Still need to do your taxes? File the fast and ez way.

The articles and content published on this blog are provided for informational purposes only. The information presented is not intended to be, and should not be taken as, legal, financial, or professional advice. Readers are advised to seek appropriate professional guidance and conduct their own due diligence before making any decisions based on the information provided.