If you thought the days of worrying about income tax were behind you, think again. On August 2, the IRS announced there has been an increase in telephone calls in which the caller claims to be an IRS agent. The callers have also begun using robo-dialers to increase the number of people they reach in this IRS phone call scam.
Signs of the IRS phone call scam
One of the newer tricks is targeted at students. The scammers claim the taxpayer owes a “Federal Student Tax.” There is no such tax, but not everyone realizes this…especially students.
It seems obvious, but many people must not realize the IRS wants US currency. They don’t want an iTunes gift card, bitcoin, or a Green Dot MoneyPak. So, just to be clear, if an IRS agent asks for an iTunes gift card, the caller is trying to pull an IRS phone call scam. For sure.
And what about the robo-call itself? If you said the IRS doesn’t use the phone to collect money, you’d be correct. These callers know all the tricks to make their scam sound legitimate. They’ll give names, badge numbers, call-back numbers, and may even have some of your information. The bottom line? If the notification didn’t come by mail, it’s a fake.
What to do about the IRS phone call scam
Hang up. Think of this as your scam-avoidance Miranda rights. You should—and have the right to—remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used in a scam against you.
Some people like to report these incidents. If you do, report the call to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. They maintain an “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” webpage. Their toll-free telephone number is 800-366-4484.
The Federal Trade Commission also takes reports on the IRS phone call scam. Use the FTC Complaint Assistant and add “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.
The guilty conscience factor
Scams always work best when the mark has something to worry about. In this case, let’s assume that “something” has to do with your own taxes. If you think you owe money to the IRS, call them at 800-829-1040.
Take it from an old bill collector, it’s always best to contact your creditors.