Don’t get fooled by fake IRS scammers!

scam-alert-pic-150x150One of the first things you learn when you reach adulthood is DON’T mess with the IRS. If you avoid paying taxes they will come looking for you. It’s almost as scary as getting the FBI on your trail.

Unfortunately, people who probably deserve to have government agencies come looking for them are using that sense of fear and respect most of us have for the IRS and are ripping people off.

The IRS website is full of warnings about the various phishing and other schemes taking advantage of the agency’s name:

A consumer in Corpus Christi just told BBB she received a phone call saying she owed delinquent taxes. She was 100 percent certain she didn’t owe anything, so she hung up. The call appeared to come from a Corpus Christi number — it had a 361 prefix. But when you call the number you get an automated message stating “press any number if you don’t want to receive any more of these calls.” The caller could’ve been anywhere in the world.

Most likely the scam they would’ve tried to pull if the consumer hadn’t hung up is the one where they threaten you with jail or other consequences and get you to wire money. The IRS says this scam has been in every state of the U.S. and often targets recent immigrants.

The Internal Revenue Service does not ask for credit card numbers over the phone or request a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer. If you get behind on your taxes, their usual first attempt to contact you will be through the mail.

Other scams, which can take place via email, phone or fax, try to get sensitive financial information so they can steal your identity. Some use websites that impersonate the IRS or download a virus on your computer. Don’t bite!

If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, the real IRS has the following advice:

  • 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.
  • If you’ve been targeted by this scam, you should also contact the Federal Trade Commission and use their “FTC Complaint Assistant” at Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments of your complaint.