Telephone Scams Continue—No End In Sight

Lawrence Zimbler

Owing taxes to the IRS can be very scary. Scammers take advantage of your fear to separate you from your money by dishonest means. Scammers are very good at making themselves seem real—they can make a fake website look real; they can alter their telephone number in your caller ID to look like the caller is from IRS, often with a Washington, DC area code.

Many people have received phone calls claiming to be from the IRS demanding payment of some kind of tax debt. Here are some ways you can quickly spot a scam from what might be the real thing:

• Their caller ID shows a Washington DC area code (202). National office personnel don’t try to collect taxes—local Revenue Officers, Automated Collection Call Sites and Service Centers work on these cases and will often show as “blocked” on caller ID.

• They require payment instantly, especially by payment card over the telephone. The IRS does not accept direct payment by credit card; credit card payments are processed by an independent 3rd party and service fees are charged to you.

• Payment is required through an unusual method—bitcoin, bank wire, prepaid debit card, etc. These payment methods are difficult if not impossible to trace and/or reverse.

• The local police are referenced—federal tax laws are not enforced by local police (although sometimes, local police might be used for support security purposes when agents expect a physically dangerous situation).

• They threaten to sue you—local courts do not enforce federal tax law, IRS does not need to sue you to be able to seize property for a legitimate tax debt. The IRS can bring suit against you to reduce your debt to a judgement in the US District Court, but you would be formally served notice of such a proceeding, and you’d have known it was coming for a long time.

The IRS will always make their initial contact by US Mail.

Their first contact will not be by telephone and will never be by email. The only situations where the IRS will send emails to the public pertain to non-account related issues.

But if you’re not sure, hang up the phone. If there’s any possibility that you really owe a tax debt, call the IRS toll free at: 1-800-829-1040 between the hours of 7AM and 7PM, Monday thru Friday.

Lawrence Zimbler

Lawrence Zimbler is a tax professional with nearly forty years of experience in various aspects of the tax industry.

Subscribe to TaxConnections Blog

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.