5 Tips to Avoid Losing Money to Fake IRS Agents

Christina Tetreault
Staff Attorney

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

The IRS will never: Call to demand immediate payment, nor call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.

Earlier this week we warned you about an all-too-common scam: robocallers who pretend to be IRS agents. The scammers demand immediate cash, and threaten anyone who doesn’t pay-up ASAP with lawsuits, jail or worse. Here are 5 tips from Consumer Reports to avoid getting scammed.

 

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The IRS will never: Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question/appeal the amount.

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The IRS will never: Require you to use a specific payment method, such as a prepaid debit card. Or ask you for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

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 The IRS will never: Call to demand immediate payment without first having mailed you a bill. Nor will they use email, text messages or any social media to address your personal tax issues.

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The IRS will never: Threaten to bring in local police to have you arrested for not paying. 

If you do get a phone call from someone claiming to represent the IRS and asking for money, hang up and do the following to protect yourself:

And remember, it’s important for regulators and policymakers to keep hearing from you. EndRobocalls.org is pushing the major phone companies to provide free tools to block unwanted robocalls before they reach your phone. Right now, one of the most effective actions you can take is to make your voice heard by joining the hundreds of thousands of Americans who are telling the carriers: Stop Robocalls!

Add your voice at www.EndRobocalls.org.

 

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16 responses to “5 Tips to Avoid Losing Money to Fake IRS Agents”

  1. Juanita Bauter says:

    They called me and left their no, on my answer machine. I calloed to see what the scam was and they told me I had to pay at this time or the police would be at my door to arrest me in 20 min.. I told them that they would have to send the police. After I hung up. I called the Treasury Inspector General and reported the scam. Can you believe, they tried it again the same day.

    • Christina Tetreault says:

      Hi Juanita, These scammers – as your story illustrates – are relentless. Good for you for taking the time to report them – here’s hoping you saved someone else from getting cheated. Thanks for taking the time to share your story.

  2. Tom Davis says:

    The IRS themselves will act like cop and lately people are afraid of the police.

  3. Doyle Graham says:

    We received such a call and refused to give them any information. What a horrible thing to do to anyone, especially vulnerable old people.

    • Christina Tetreault says:

      Doyle, We agree that these predators need to be stopped, and think that stopping illegal robocalls will go a long way to protect consumers, particularly vulnerable consumers. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  4. elaine gampp says:

    I have received a call from ‘IRS’ stating they are going to take me to court and the called ID had my own phone number showing. I just hung up–received on April 3.

    Thanks to the CU warning, I was not mislead and just hung up without saying anything.

    • carolyn robe says:

      My friend told me he told them they need to accept Jesus as their personal Savior. (He is not religious.)

  5. Frank King says:

    I received two of those calls earlier this month. They came from a number with a Florida area code. Having had a considerable amount of interaction with the IRS in the past, I knew they NEVER initiate contact or demand payment by telephone. I simply hung up.

  6. jeff wehrmeister says:

    The police called this “spoofing” when someone changed Caller I.D. to look like a call was coming from me. This was done on both my cell phone and my home phone. Scammers’ calls can look like it’s from I.R.S., Microsoft (and they gain access to your computer), probably even the police. My Yahoo contact list was hacked and scammers can duplicate my email and friends’ email so you never know who is contacting who! Safe way is to use U.S. Postal Service, slower but sanctity of the mails is federally protected. This Brave New Digital World is like the Wild West!

    • Christina Tetreault says:

      Hi Jeff. Thanks for calling attention to the problems of both spoofing and phishing. Both involve scammers disguising where they are coming from in order to trick you into replying. A world without robocalls will go a long way to ending illegal scam calls. We hope you will join us in the fight to end robocalls here.

  7. k b singh says:

    I received all these calls several times at least 2 calls in a month I did complaint to the local police but they don’t bother their answer is always avoid the calls. please let me know what I have to do to catch them .I have their nos too
    thanks and regards
    kb

    • Christina Tetreault says:

      Hi K.B. Sorry to hear that the calls keep coming despite your complaint to the police. You can help others avoid these scammers (and maybe help law enforcement track them down) by reporting them to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 1.800.366.4484 or at http://www.tigta.gov. Thanks again for your comment and good luck!

  8. Joanne says:

    I got two different calls from spoofed numbers in Texas and South Carolina. Some guy with a heavy accent both times demanding payment. I laughed and told him I was calling the police.

    I would not classify these as robocalls. These are fraudulent calls with a person speaking. You could call back the number and speak with the guy.

    Comcast provides a NOMOrobo call service which I use.

    • Christina Tetreault says:

      Joanne, thanks for the comment. Glad to hear you are using NoMoRobo. We’re eager to hear more about how that’s working for you: give us feedback here. A quick word about what constitutes a robocall. The FTC used to define all auto-dialed calls – not just those from automated voices – as robocalls. We’re sticking with that definition because it’s the most pro-consumer. Why? Because auto-dialers make it cheap and easy for scammers to reach thousands of people every day, something that really wouldn’t be possible if they were dialing the phone. One they do that, you’re interrupted, whether it’s by a human or a robo voice. Thanks again for your comment and keep your NoMoRobo feedback coming!

  9. Dennis Landi says:

    I was an Internal Revenue Service employee from 1983-2004, so I was already aware of all of this information. It might have made it a little easier for this same information to be passed on to other friends and/or relatives if you had sent me this same e-mail information sometime within the past week. It might have been even better still if you had sent this same information sometime last month. You might want to keep this in mind for next year.

    Thank you.

    Dennis Landi

    • Christina Tetreault says:

      Dennis, you are right. This scam has been going on for awhile a long, long time. Sadly, it appears to be getting more common as the time to file gets closer, so we thought this information would be more likely to be seen and heeded if we tied it to the filing date (4/15). We are hopeful that these tips will be useful, as sadly, there’s no end to this scam in sight! Thanks for your support and for taking the time to comment.

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