Beware of IRS Impersonators
A lot of honest taxpayers are being robbed by tricky IRS impersonation scams. These people are not real IRS employees, just thieves.
If you are contacted by someone claiming to be an IRS employee, here are a few things to keep in mind:
If you receive an automated message or a live call, stating that “IRS is filing a lawsuit against you,” and you need to send money right away to prevent it, you can be certain it is a scam.
The IRS typically does not make its initial contact with taxpayers by telephone, and the IRS does not initiate contact with a taxpayer by text, email, or through social media.
If you do not owe the IRS money, or if you are not aware of any issues with the IRS, be highly suspicious of any contacts, either live callers or recorded messages, threatening some type of IRS action against you.
Never respond to an automated “IRS” call.
What should you do if you are contacted?
Ask: “What is your name and badge number please?” Likely, the scammers will hang up. But if they don’t, and you are given a name and badge number, you have two options. One, if you know you owe the IRS money, or you have reason to believe you have an issue with the IRS, then you can call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040, and find out if it was attempting to contact you. Two, if you have no reason to believe the IRS would be contacting you, then you should hang up and file a complaint with the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration here.
What shouldn’t you do?
Never give your credit card number, bank account number, send them a check, send a gift card, or wire funds.
The IRS will not ask you to make a payment over the phone, unless it has already sent several written notices to you. If you legitimately owe the IRS money, you can mail a check (you should first confirm the correct address with the IRS by calling the 800 number above), or by paying online through the IRS website: https://www.irs.gov/payments.
The caller may say you have to purchase a “stored value card,” or gift card, then they take the number from you to “check” to see if there is really money stored on the card; if there is money, they steal it at that moment.
Be safe, be smart, and before you have any conversation with anyone who claims to be from the IRS, simply ask the one question that likely will send them packing: “What is your name and badge number?” A true IRS employee must give you this minimal amount of information.