Tax fraudsters strike quickly, often from overseas. They can cover, erase, or leave no tracks before taxpayers know they’ve been duped. Their goal is to steal money, take control of personal computers, or commit identity theft. IRS scammers trick their victims into giving them access to bank account information, Social Security numbers (SSN), or credit and debit card details.
You can avoid falling for an IRS scam if you know how to spot these scammers and their tricks, which starts with knowing how the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) contacts taxpayers. Here is a list of things a tax scammer will do but the IRS will NEVER do:
REMEMBER THIS: Anybody contacting you claiming to be from the IRS and asking you for personal or financial information is a crook.
When tax season hits, IRS phone scams top the list of calls to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division. Phone tax scams come in many varieties. These tech-savvy crooks can spoof caller ID to make their calls look like they are coming from an official number or location. And they may even have some of your personal information when they call — like the last four digits of your SSN or your correct birthday and year. Don’t confirm and don’t offer any more information.
Reported IRS phone scams include:
DO THIS: If someone calls you and says they are from the IRS, hang up and call the IRS directly at 800-829- 1040.
Click on this audio example of a real IRS phone scam call. This caller claims to be from the IRS and tells you the IRS is filing suit against you for back taxes.
Identity thieves use phishing emails to trick recipients into giving up passwords and other information. Don’t take the bait. Look for — but do not open:
Keep your computer and mobile phone secure. Use security software and set to update automatically. Use strong passwords and 2-factor authentication. Give personal information only over encrypted websites — look for “https” addresses and back up your files regularly.
First, if you don’t owe taxes, hang up immediately or delete the email without opening it. Report any suspicious contacts to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration hotline at 800-366-4484. If you do owe on your taxes, call the IRS at 800-829-1040 if you need federal tax assistance.
You may forward emails to the IRS to receive, track, and shut down these scams. Detailed instructions for how to send the emails are available through the IRS. You may not receive an individual response to your email because of the volume of reports the IRS receives each day.
If you receive an illegal robocall from someone claiming to be from the IRS or pitching a tax scam, report the caller ID and callback number to the IRS by send it to the IRS and write “IRS Phone Scam” in the subject line. You can also report illegal robocalls to the Attorney General’s Robocall Crackdown Team.
Report misuse of the IRS name, logo, forms, or other IRS property using the Treasury Inspector General’s website or hotline at 800-366-4484.
Remember that this is the only genuine IRS website. You should never get to this site using a link embedded into an email - instead enter the address in your browser. A website link embedded into an email can easily take you to a fake site.
If you have a general consumer complaint, you may file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Unit:
Consumer Protection Unit
P.O. Box 30213
Lansing, MI 48909
Toll free: 877-765-8388
Online complaint form