IRS Phone Scams
Potential phone scam victims may be told that they owe money that must be paid immediately to the IRS or they are entitled to big refunds. When unsuccessful the first time, sometimes phone scammers call back trying a new strategy.
Taxpayers should remember their first contact with the IRS will not be a call from out of the blue, but through official correspondence sent through the mail. A big red flag for these scams are angry, threatening calls from people who say they are from the IRS and urging immediate payment.
Tax-Related Identity Theft
The IRS doesn’t initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. This includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels.
Tax-related identity theft occurs when someone uses your stolen Social Security number to file a tax return claiming a fraudulent refund. Generally, an identity thief will use your SSN to file a false return early in the year. You may be unaware you are a victim until you try to file your taxes and learn one already has been filed using your SSN.
Recognize the Warning Signs
Be alert to possible identity theft if you receive an IRS notice or letter that states that:
- More than one tax return was filed using your SSN;
- You owe additional tax, refund offset, or have had collection actions taken against you for a year you did not file a tax return; or
- IRS records indicate you received wages from an employer unknown to you.
Dealing With Tax-Related Identity Theft
If you think someone used your SSN for a tax refund or a job—or the IRS sends you a notice or letter indicating a problem—contact the IRS immediately. Specialists will work with you to get your tax return filed, get you any refund you are due, and protect your IRS account from identity thieves in the future.
Steps to Take If You Become a Victim
- Complete IRS Form 14309, Identity Theft Affidavit. Use a fillable form at IRS.gov, print, then mail or fax according to instructions. Include proof of your identity e.g., a copy of your Social Security card, driver’s license or passport. Be sure to send personal information by certified mail.
- Continue to pay your taxes and file your tax return, even if you must do so by paper.
- If you previously contacted the IRS and did not have a resolution, contact the Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 1-800-908-4490. The IRS has teams available to assist.
Dealing With Tax-Related Identity Theft
After you contact the IRS, it’s important to limit the potential damage from identity theft:
- Create an Identity Theft Report by filing an identity theft complaint with the FTC and filing a report with local law enforcement;
- Order your credit reports; and
- Put a fraud alert on your credit reports.
Visit the brochures page and consult the Identity Theft Repair Kit or visit IdentityTheft.gov for help with these steps.
What should you know:
- The IRS never asks for credit card, debit card or prepaid card information over the telephone.
- The IRS never insists that taxpayers use a specific payment method to pay tax obligations.
- The IRS never requests immediate payment over the telephone and will not take enforcement action immediately following a phone conversation. Taxpayers usually receive prior notification of IRS enforcement action involving IRS tax liens or levies.
If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, here’s what you should do:
- 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 TIGTA 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.
Taxpayers should be aware that there are other unrelated scams (such as a lottery sweepstakes) and solicitations (such as debt relief) that fraudulently claim to be from the IRS.