Have you received a vague phone call from a person claiming to be the IRS, demanding that you cough up money to pay taxes without providing any tangible information? These callers can be relentless and may have ordinary names, persuasive IRS badge numbers, and transform your caller ID to display the words “IRS” across it, as if the actual organization is calling you. Before you panic, this is a scam called phishing, where frauds posing as the IRS make unsolicited communication to people through email or a phone call in the hopes of receiving their valuable financial or personal information. The IRS wants to inform the public that it can be very obvious to recognize these fake IRS callers since the organization will not pressure you to give information over the phone.

Though the revenue service is now starting an initiative to use collection agencies to collect back taxes over the phone, callers are not required to respond or give out any information over the phone. The IRS pledges to assist taxpayers in avoiding confusion between calls from collection and fraud agencies by sending a letter when their account is moved to a private collection agency.

To safeguard your information and avoid falling victim to these thieves, pay close attention to these warning signs. Per their website, the IRS will not:

  1. Call about unpaid taxes without mailing you a bill first.
  2. Demand immediate payment or that you must pay taxes without permitting you to question or dispute the amount they claim you owe to them.
  3. Expect you to use a particular type of payment method for your taxes like a gift card, pre-paid debit card, or a wire transfer.
  4. Threaten to involve local law-enforcement units to have you arrested for not paying taxes.

If you continue to receive calls from individuals who falsely claim to be affiliated with the IRS, even if you believe you could owe taxes to the government, immediately hang up and call the IRS at 1.800.829.1040. Real IRS employees can assist with your payment queries. You can also organize a compliant with the Federal Trade Commission at FTC.gov. Be sure to add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the remarks section of your complaint. For more information, visit the IRs website at IRS.gov.

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