IRS warns again to beware of phone scammers

The IRS doesn’t make phone calls.

Remember that.

If someone calls you saying they’re the IRS – as they have more than 90,000 other Americans – it’s a scam.

Over 1,000 people have learned that the hard way and are $5 million poorer for the experience, according to a recent report of complaints received on the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration’s telephone hotline.

The scams have become such a problem that the IRS is repeating previous warnings, telling Americans to be on the alert for scammers who call claiming to be the IRS and demanding immediate payment.

“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,” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said. “A big red flag for these scams are angry, threatening calls from people who say they are from the IRS and urging immediate payment. This is not how we operate.”

Scammers may request immediate payment over the phone, using specific credit, debit or prepaid cards – which the IRS does not do. The IRS never asks for immediate payment over the phone.

Typical modus operandi of the scammers include:

  • Using common names and surnames to identify themselves, as well as fake IRS badge numbers
  • Possibly being able to recite the last four digits of your Social Security number
  • Having the toll-free number of the IRS appear on your caller ID
  • Sending bogus emails to back up the phone calls
  • Playing fake background noise of other IRS calls being made
  • Follow-up calling by others pretending to be law enforcement

If you believe you are being targeted by a scammer, report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration’s office at (800) 366-4484 as well as at the Federal Trade Commission’s FTC Complaint Assistant at

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