TIGTA (The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration) has issued a warning for the public to be aware of phone calls from individuals claiming to represent the IRS. “This is the largest scam of its kind that we have ever seen,” said TIGTA Inspector General J. Russell George in a statement. He noted that has received reports of over 20,000 contacts and has become aware of thousands of victims who have collectively paid over $1 million as a result of the scam, in which individuals make unsolicited calls to taxpayers fraudulently claiming to be IRS officials. Intended victims are told they owe past due taxes and must pay with a debit card or wire transfer or they will be arrested, deported, or will lose their business or driver’s license.
The IRS usually makes their first contact by mail, not by phone, email or any other social media. The IRS employees are very diligent in their protection of taxpayer rights and confidentiality. They will not initiate a telephone conversation and demand payment or request personal information. “If someone unexpectedly calls claiming to be from the IRS and uses threatening language if you don’t pay immediately, that is a sign that it really isn’t the IRS calling,” said George.
If you, or your client, receive one of these telephone calls TIGTA recommends the following actions:
- If you do owe taxes, or think you do, hang up and call the IRS at 800-829-1040 for assistance from IRS employees,
- If you do not owe taxes contact TIGTA at 800-366-4484 to report the incident, or
- A complaint can also be filed with the Federal Trade Commission at www. FTC.gov. Include “IRS Telephone Scam” in the subject line of the complaint.