Over the years, the IRS has been warning taxpayers and tax professionals about scams where someone calls, allegedly from the IRS, that they had a balance due and needed to pay their balance by a certain date or they would be arrested. There have been several variations over the years. But lately, the scammers seem to be targeting taxpayers in the Midwest. I’ve received several calls from clients reporting this scam and our local police station has issued a warning.
Characteristics of the current scam include:
- A claim the taxpayer is subject to a review by the criminal investigative branch of the IRS and owes taxes that must be paid immediately to the IRS.
- Robotic sounding messages
- Scammers use fake names and IRS badge numbers. They generally use common names and surnames to identify themselves.
- Scammers may be able to recite the last four digits of a victim’s Social Security number.
- Scammers spoof the IRS toll-free number on caller ID to make it appear that it’s the IRS calling.
- Scammers sometimes send bogus IRS emails to some victims to support their bogus calls.
- Victims hear background noise of other calls being conducted to mimic a call site.
- After threatening victims with jail time or driver’s license revocation, scammers hang up and others soon call back pretending to be from the local police or DMV, and the caller ID supports their claim.
The IRS recommends the following steps should you receive this call:
- If you know you owe taxes or you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS at 1.800.829.1040. The IRS employees at that line can help you with a payment issue, if there really is such an issue.
- If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to think that you owe any taxes (for example, you’ve never received a bill or the caller made some bogus threats as described above), then call and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1.800.366.4484.
- You can file a complaint using the FTC Complaint Assistant; choose “Other” and then “Imposter Scams.” If the complaint involves someone impersonating the IRS, include the words “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.
You can also call your local police station and, of course, call us to help determine if the call is legitimate.