Phone calls from people pretending to be IRS agents can be scary, especially when they tell you they are going to have you arrested for owing back taxes. Well guess what? The calls are just scams in attempt to access your credit card, bank account or wallet.
The calls can be harassing and aggressive. The caller may identify themselves as an IRS agent and declare that you have been audited and you owe money. The caller will usually give you the option of paying over the phone to avoid jail time. They may also leave messages declaring the same thing. But don’t worry, it’s all just a scam.
Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood has provided tips to consumers on how to avoid falling for an IRS scam:
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If you owe the IRS money, they will send you a letter. If it is something that needs your immediate attention, they will send you a letter by registered mail.
IRS do nots
According to the IRS, the federal agency will not:
- Call to demand immediate payment, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.
- Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
- Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
- Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
- Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
They will also not send you an email demanding money.
But I paid my taxes
If you know that your taxes and filings are up to date, the IRS recommends hanging up the phone immediately.
Maybe I do owe the government some money
If you think you owe the IRS for some back taxes or penalties, then it’s easy to find the answer. Simply give them a call at 1-800-829-1040. They will know whether or not this is the case. And if you do indeed owe them some money, don’t panic — they will help you set up a payment plan to fit your budget.
Do not engage
If you answer a call and you realize it’s a scam, hang up. If it’s a call from a number you don’t recognize or the number seems suspicious, simply do not answer.
And yeah, never give out your credit card number
Seriously. The IRS isn’t going to call you and ask you to pay with a credit card just like the agency isn’t going to ask that you wire them money or transfer money through an email.
You’re not alone
The IRS says it has received almost 1 million calls about phone or email scams since 2013. Unfortunately, more than $26.5 million has paid out to con artists.
Who you gonna call?
If you feel like you are the victim of an IRS phone scam, call the Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General’s Office at 1-800-281-4418. You can also file a report online with the Federal Trade Commission.