Phone Fraud Scam Targeting Taxpayers

Federal Tax Day – Current,T.1,TIGTA
Warns of Largest Ever Phone Fraud Scam Targeting Taxpayers,
(Mar. 24, 2014)

The Treasury Inspector General for Taxpayer Administration (TIGTA) has issued a warning to taxpayers to beware of phone calls from individuals claiming to represent the IRS in an effort to defraud them. TIGTA has received reports of over 20,000 contacts and has become aware of thousands of victims who have collectively paid over $1 million as a result of the scam, in which individuals make unsolicited calls to taxpayers fraudulently claiming to be IRS officials.

“This is the largest scam of its kind that we have ever seen,” said the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration J. Russell George. “The increasing number of people receiving these unsolicited calls from individuals who fraudulently claim to represent the IRS is alarming,” he said. “At all times, and particularly during the tax filing season, we want to make sure that innocent taxpayers are alert to this scam so they are not harmed by these criminals,” George said, adding, “Do not become a victim.”

Callers claiming to be from the IRS tell intended victims they owe taxes and must pay using a prepaid debit card or wire transfer. The scammers threaten those who refuse to pay with arrest, deportation or loss of a business or driver’s license. However, the IRS generally contacts people by mail, not by phone, about unpaid taxes, the IRS will not ask for payment using a prepaid debit card or wire transfer and the IRS also will not ask for a credit card number over the phone. “If someone unexpectedly calls claiming to be from the IRS and uses threatening language if you don’t pay immediately, that is a sign that it really isn’t the IRS calling,” George said.

The callers who commit this fraud often:

  • Use common names and fake IRS badge numbers.

  • Know the last four digits of the victim’s Social Security number.

  • Make caller ID information appear as if the IRS is calling.

  • Send bogus IRS e-mails to support their scam.

  • Call a second time claiming to be the police or department of motor vehicles, and the caller ID again supports their claim.

If you get a call from someone claiming to be with the IRS asking for a payment:

  • If you owe federal taxes, or think you may owe taxes, hang up and call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS workers can help you with any questions.

  • If you do not owe taxes, call and report the incident to TIGTA at 800-366-4484.

You can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at Be sure to add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments in your complaint.

TIGTA and the IRS encourage taxpayers to be alert for phone and email scams that use the IRS name. The IRS will never request personal or financial information by email, texting or any social media. You should forward scam emails to Do not open any attachments or click on any links in those e-mails.

Taxpayers should be aware that there are other unrelated scams and solicitations that fraudulently claim to be from the IRS. For more information about tax scams go to

TIGTA Press Release: TIGTA Warns of “Largest Ever” Phone Fraud Scam Targeting Taxpayers