Don’t Fall Victim To This Heinous IRS Scam

Scammers are calling individuals claiming to be the IRS, if this should happen to you it is imperative that you do not give away any personal financial information, as these scammers have conned over 75,000 people out of a collective $28 million.

By Tori Hook | Published

IRS scam

A recent IRS scam is targeting people by both phone and email, and they can sound scarily real; they’ll usually claim that the police will be after you in minutes if you don’t pay your taxes immediately via the call. Do not, under any circumstances, give your financial information to or pay someone claiming to be the IRS over the phone. In the last five years, more than 75,000 Americans have fallen victim to scammers pretending to be the IRS, with losses amounting to $28 million.

According to NPR, the number of victims and dollar amount of losses comes from the information reported to the Federal Trade Commission, which helps protect consumers against fraud. The actual number of victims is likely even higher, as the Federal Trade Commission’s data doesn’t include reports to other agencies or victims that don’t report the fraud. Tax season is a particularly dangerous time when it comes to IRS scams; here’s how to protect yourself from scammers.

The IRS won’t ever reach out to you by phone or by email first; they’ll contact you primarily in writing, by a letter received in the mail. You’ll receive several letters before you get a call or a visit, so unless you’ve blown off a lot of letters about unpaid taxes, that phone call from someone claiming to be the IRS is a scam. The real IRS also will not threaten you with arrest or demand immediate payment; even if you suspect that you owe money, hang up and call the IRS directly rather than giving financial information to the potential scam caller.

IRS scams aren’t new, but they have been becoming more and more frequent for the past several years. They can threaten you with arrest, to revoke your driver’s license, or even to deport you; the real IRS will never threaten you like this. While phone calls are the most common form of the IRS scam, they can also target you over email or text. These types of scams are known as phishing scams, and they’ve recently been featured on the IRS “Dirty Dozen” list, which helps to promote awareness about tax scams, especially during tax season.

A text scam might take a different form than a phone call scam; for instance, you could get a text or an email saying that your account has been frozen or an unusual activity report with a link inserted to solve the problem. You should always be careful when opening links via email or text, even if it seems to be from the real IRS. It’s always best to contact the IRS directly, from the contact methods listed on their website, rather than replying to a text, email, or phone call that might be a scammer.

Be on the lookout, as well, for new IRS scam tactic that, instead of threatening punishment, promises a reward, like a tax refund or rebate. Even though the idea of a surprise sum of money can be enticing, never give your financial information out over the phone, via email, or via text. When in doubt, always contact the IRS directly to help you protect yourself and your finances.