TurboTax / Tax Calculators & Tips / All Tax Guides / General Tax Tips / Beware of IRS Phone Scams

Beware of IRS Phone Scams

Updated for Tax Year 2016


OVERVIEW

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is seeing a growing number of tax-related phone scams. They can happen to anyone, at any time of the year —but it's especially prevalent around the end of the year and tax time. Scammers are typically after your money and possibly your identity as well. By staying alert and knowing the warning signs, you can keep your family safe.


Scammers prepare to defraud

Man Checking phone at a coffee shop

Scammers often gather a lot of personal information about you even before they call, such as your:

  • Full name
  • Address
  • Family member names
  • Employer
  • Education
  • Last 4 digits of your Social Security number

They use this information to make themselves seem knowledgeable and official. The scammers also alter the name and phone number that appears on your Caller ID to make it look like they are calling from the IRS. Their goal is to scare you into acting immediately, before you have time to think.

 

The phone scam

A scammer will call you and identify himself as an IRS agent, complete with a fake name and a bogus badge number.

  • He'll say you owe delinquent taxes and demand immediate payment.
  • The scammer will convincingly try to force you to give your bank account or credit card information, or he might instruct you to get a prepaid debit card to make your IRS payment.

If the call goes to an answering machine, the scammer will leave a message with a dire warning, demanding that you call back as soon as possible or risk arrest.

A slightly different phone scam

An alternative ploy is for the scammer to tell you that the IRS discovered it owes you a large refund and wants to pay you immediately. The scammer will then ask for your Social Security number and bank information so the IRS can transfer the money directly to your account.

How to spot an IRS phone scam

Scammers frequently say things the IRS would never say over the phone. Knowing what the IRS won’t say can help you quickly spot an IRS phone scam. The IRS will never:

  • Call about money owed without first mailing you a bill
  • Demand immediate payment by phone
  • Demand payment without allowing you to question or appeal the amount
  • Ask for your bank account or credit card information
  • Require that you pay taxes in a certain manner, like with a prepaid debit card
  • Threaten to send the police to arrest you

What if I get one of these calls?

If you get a phone call by someone claiming to be from the IRS:

  • Don't talk to the caller or give out any information
  • Hang up immediately
  • Report the call to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, either online at IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting or by phone at 800-366-4484
  • Report the call to the Federal Trade Commission using the FTC Complaint Assistant

What if I do owe the IRS money?

Even if you owe money to the IRS:

  • Hang up and do not talk to the caller
  • Do not give out any information
  • Call the IRS at 800-829-1040 to sort out what you owe

Get every deduction you deserve

TurboTax Deluxe searches more than 350 tax deductions and credits so you get your maximum refund, guaranteed.

For only $54.99$34.99*
Start for Free

Looking for more information?

The above article is intended to provide generalized financial information designed to educate a broad segment of the public; it does not give personalized tax, investment, legal, or other business and professional advice. Before taking any action, you should always seek the assistance of a professional who knows your particular situation for advice on taxes, your investments, the law, or any other business and professional matters that affect you and/or your business.


Security is built into everything we do
Here's how
* Important Offer Details and Disclosures
  • TURBOTAX ONLINE/MOBILE

  • Try for Free/Pay When You File: TurboTax online and mobile pricing is based on your tax situation and varies by product. Free 1040EZ/1040A + Free State offer only available with TurboTax Federal Free Edition; Offer may change or end at any time without notice. Actual prices are determined at the time of print or e-file and are subject to change without notice. Savings and price comparisons based on anticipated price increase expected in March. Special discount offers may not be valid for mobile in-app purchases.
  • QuickBooks Bonus Offer with TurboTax Self-Employed: File your 2016 federal return with TurboTax Self-Employed by 4/18/17 and receive a complimentary subscription to QuickBooks Self-Employed until 4/30/18 at no additional cost. After you file your taxes, you must activate your QuickBooks Self-Employed subscription by 7/15/2017 by logging into QuickBooks Self-Employed via mobile app or at https://selfemployed.intuit.com/login. Once activated, you will have access to QuickBooks Self-Employed until 4/30/2018.
    Offer valid only for new QuickBooks Self-Employed customers.
    • When you use TurboTax Self-Employed to file your 2017 taxes, you will have the option to renew your QuickBooks Self-Employed subscription. If you do not file with TurboTax Self-Employed by 4/30/2018, your QuickBooks Self-Employed subscription will automatically renew on 5/1/2018 for another year at the then-current annual subscription rate. You may cancel your subscription at any time from within the QuickBooks Self-Employed billing section.
  • Pays for itself: In order to pay for the price of TurboTax Self-Employed, you will need at least $600 in deductible business expenses. This calculation is based on the self-employment tax income rate for tax year 2016.
  • Anytime, anywhere: Internet access required; standard message and data rates apply to download and use mobile app.
  • Fastest refund possible: Fastest tax refund with e-file and direct deposit; tax refund time frames will vary.
  • Pay for TurboTax out of your federal refund: $X.XX Refund Processing Service fee applies to this payment method. Prices are subject to change without notice.
  • TurboTax Expert Help, Tax Advice and SmartLook: Included with Deluxe, Premier and Self-Employed (via phone or SmartLook); not included with Federal Free Edition. Feature availability varies by device. State tax advice is free. Service, experience levels, hours of operation and availability vary, and are subject to restriction and change without notice.
  • #1 best-selling tax software: Based on aggregated sales data for all tax year 2015 TurboTax products.
  • Most Popular: TurboTax Deluxe is our most popular product among TurboTax Online users with more complex tax situations.
  • CompleteCheck: Covered under the TurboTax accurate calculations and maximum refund guarantees.
  • TurboTax Self-Employed Expense Finder: Available only in TurboTax Self-Employed. Not available for people with certain types of expenses and tax situations including paying contractors or employees, home office or vehicle actuals, inventory, self employed health insurance or retirement, asset depreciation, sale of property or vehicles, and farm income. Some financial institutions limit the timeframe for which historical transactions may be imported by ExpenseFinder. ExpenseFinder expected late January (late February for mobile app).
  • TURBOTAX CD/DOWNLOAD SOFTWARE

  • TurboTax CD/Download products: Price includes tax preparation and printing of federal tax returns and free federal e-file of up to 5 federal tax returns. Additional fees apply for e-filing state returns. E-file fees do not apply to New York state returns. Savings and price comparison based on anticipated price increase expected in March. Prices subject to change without notice.
  • Fastest refund possible: Fastest tax refund with e-file and direct deposit; tax refund time frames will vary.
  • Pay for TurboTax out of your federal refund: $X.XX Refund Processing Service fee applies to this payment method. Prices are subject to change without notice. This benefit is available with TurboTax Federal products except TurboTax Business.
  • About our TurboTax Product Experts: Customer service and product support vary by time of year.
  • About our credentialed tax experts: Live tax advice via phone is included with Premier and Home & Business; fees apply for Basic and Deluxe customers. State tax advice is free. Service, experience levels, hours of operation and availability vary, and are subject to restriction and change without notice. Not available for TurboTax Business customers.
  • #1 best-selling tax software: Based on aggregated sales data for all tax year 2015 TurboTax products.
  • Data Import: Imports financial data from participating companies. Quicken and QuickBooks import not available with TurboTax installed on a Mac. Imports from Quicken (2015 and higher) and QuickBooks Desktop (2011 and higher); both Windows only. Quicken import not available for TurboTax Business. Quicken products provided by Quicken Inc., Quicken import subject to change.