I recently saw an email from someone who received a phone call from a woman claiming to be from the IRS. The woman claimed that she was calling because he (the person who received the call) was the target of a criminal investigation. She went on to say that he needed to give her the name of a lawyer that he wanted to represent him and that she could put him in touch with one if needed. Luckily, in large part because the woman on the phone didn’t speak very coherent English, he knew it was a scam. However, some people aren’t so lucky.
Last year the IRS released a warning of a pervasive telephone scam like the one mentioned above that appears to still be happening. Check it out at this link. The IRS said that the scammers do several things to appear as though they are really calling from the IRS. First, they change the caller ID so that the IRS phone number shows. Then they may know the last four digits of your social security number. Finally, they threaten jail time or license revocation. If you don’t follow the instructions they give you, you later receive a call where they’ve changed the caller ID again so it appears to be from the police or DMV.
Here are about what to do if you ever receive a call similar to this one:
- 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 the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration 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.
Check out this video from the IRS on tax scams.