Global Affairs

Yes, the IRS Might Actually Call You (and How to Know It’s Not a Scam)

Image for article titled Yes, the IRS Might Actually Call You (and How to Know It's Not a Scam)

Photo: WAYHOME studio (Shutterstock)

You’ve probably heard that the IRS will never call you under any circumstances, and that anyone claiming to be an agent from the agency is trying to scam you. That’s a myth—the IRS actually might call you, especially when there’s a large backlog of tax returns like we’re dealing with now. Yet scams are rampant, too—so how do you know what’s real or not?

How to tell if a call is actually from the IRS

The IRS prefers to contact tax filers by mail first, but they might call you if you haven’t responded to their letters. According to H&R Block, the agency will typically call you for two reasons:

  • You owe large amounts of back taxes
  • You’re subject to a field audit

If you haven’t received any mail from the IRS prior to receiving a phone call, it might be a fake. It’s also possible that a private debt collector will call you on the IRS’ behalf, but whether it’s a collector or the IRS asking, all debt payments should be made directly to the Treasury. To make a payment, visit this IRS webpage.

How to tell if an IRS call is a scam

The IRS will not ask you to make any payments over the phone, nor will they demand that you pay taxes without an opportunity to question or appeal the money you owe. You’re likely dealing with a scammer if the caller:

  • Is hostile or coercive
  • Asks for your credit card number over the phone
  • Threatens legal action for non-payment
  • Threatens to take away your driver’s or business license or immigration status

Bottom line

Don’t give out personal information to anyone over the phone without first verifying that you’re dealing with a credentialed IRS agent. If you unexpectedly receive a phone call from someone saying they’re from the IRS and you’re not sure that it’s legit (especially if the call wasn’t preceded by a letter), you can ask for their contact information and call your local IRS office to verify their identity. If you think the call is a scam, report it to the FTC using their Complaint Assistant.

 

Related Articles

Back to top button