Con artists continue to come up with new ways to impersonate the IRS and scam taxpayers out or their money and/or private information. Recently, the IRS issued a warning about a new scam in which callers use intimidation tactics to extort money from taxpayers.
The scammer claims that the call recipient has overdue taxes, and threatens to suspend or cancel the person’s social security number (SSN) unless payment is submitted immediately. Because a valid SSN is needed to obtain employment, open bank and credit accounts, and much more, these calls can be very frightening. However, if you receive such a call, you should not disclose any of your personal information—instead, hang up immediately.
Remember that neither the IRS nor any private collection agency working on the IRS’s behalf will ever:
- Request payment via wire transfer, prepaid debit card, or gift card. The IRS does not accept any of these forms of payments for tax bills.
- Ask you to make a payment to any organization other than the US Treasury.
- Demand immediate payment without giving you the opportunity to appeal the tax bill and/or seek professional representation.
- Threaten to immediately call in the FBI, local police or any other legal authorities to have you arrested if you do not pay at once.
If you receive any phone call that you believe to be an IRS impersonation scam, you can help your fellow taxpayers by reporting the incident in one of the following ways:
- Go to the Treasury Inspector General’s website and fill out the IRS scam reporting form.
- Report the caller ID number and any callback number given to you by the caller in an email with subject line, “IRS Phone Scam.” Send your message to phishing@IRS.gov.
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC); in the complaint notes, write “IRS phone scam.”
Even if you know that you owe back taxes to the IRS, do not let scammers bully you via email or over the phone. If you have any doubts about the legitimacy of a collection call you receive, hang up. Then call the number on your IRS billing notice or 1-800-829-1040 to talk to an actual IRS representative.