Don’t Fall Prey to an IRS Scam

submitted by Maryanne Daily, Senior Vice President, Better Business Bureau of Southern Piedmont

An aggressive and sophisticated phone scam targeting taxpayers, including recent immigrants, has been making the rounds throughout the country. Callers claim to be employees of the IRS, but they are not. These con artists can sound convincing when they call. They use fake names and bogus IRS identification badge numbers. They may know a lot about their targets, and they usually alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling.

Victims are told they owe money to the IRS, and it must be paid promptly through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. If the victim refuses to cooperate, they are then threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license. In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting.

Or victims may be told they have a refund due to try to trick them into sharing private information.

If the phone isn’t answered, the scammers often leave an “urgent” callback request.

Illegal scams can lead to significant penalties and interest for taxpayers and criminal prosecution. IRS Criminal Investigation works closely with the Department of Justice (DOJ) to shutdown scams and prosecute the criminals behind them. Taxpayers should remember that they are legally responsible for what is on their tax returns even if it is prepared by someone else. Make sure the preparer you hire is up to the task.

For help and information regarding these and other scams contact or

BBB of Southern Piedmont also provides fraud alerts and other consumer information for older adults through our email broadcast service. Subscribe to our email list by visiting

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Follow these tips in order to protect yourself from this IRS scam and others like it:

  • Beware of any caller claiming to be from the IRS and demanding money. The IRS and demanding money. The IRS will never ask for payments by wire transfer or a prepaid card, and the IRS will typically alert taxpayers of unpaid taxes via the mail and not by phone call.
  • In general, never give anyone money or credit card information over the phone.
  • Never trust callers who use threats and hostility to bully their targets into doing what they want. This is a tactic many scammers use.
  • Be skeptical of what a caller claims he or she can do if you refuse to meet their demand. An IRS agent will not get the police or an immigration agency involved just because you owe taxes.