IRS warns of payment phone call schemes - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

IRS warns of phony payment phone calls

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The Internal Revenue Service warned consumers Monday about a sophisticated phone scheme targeting taxpayers, including recent immigrants, around the U.S.

The ploy works like this: The caller tells the victim they owe the IRS money and that it must be paid right away with a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. If the person refuses to cooperate, they are  threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver's license, according to the IRS. The caller typically gets hostile and insulting.

"This scam has recently hit taxpayers in the Southeast Region. We encouraged taxpayers to guard against being misled by unscrupulous individuals trying to persuade them to give out their social security numbers and personal financial information. The IRS does not and will not ask for credit card numbers over the phone, nor request a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer," said IRS Spokesman Mark S. Green, in a statement.

The IRS warns that if someone calling claims to be from the IRS and threatens to arrest you if you don't pay immediately, that alone is a sign that it is not in face the IRS calling.

The IRS usually first reaches out to taxpayers about a tax issue by mail.

Other characteristics of this scam include:

  • Scammers use fake names and IRS badge numbers. They generally use common names and surnames to identify themselves.
  • Scammers may be able to recite the last four digits of a victim's Social Security Number.
  • Scammers spoof the IRS toll-free number on caller ID to make it appear that it's the IRS calling.
  • Scammers sometimes send bogus IRS emails to some victims to support their bogus calls.
  • Victims hear background noise of other calls being conducted to mimic a call site.
  • After threatening victims with jail time or driver's license revocation, scammers hang up and others soon call back pretending to be from the local police or DMV, and the caller ID supports their claim.

Anyone who gets this scamming phone call can take these steps:

If you know you owe taxes or you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS at 800.829.1040. IRS employees can help with the payment issue.

If you know you don't owe taxes or have no reason to think that you owe any taxes, report the suspicious phone call to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration by going to or calling 800.366.4484. Also contact the Federal Trade Commission's FTC Complaint Assistant online at and include "IRS Telephone Scam" in the comments of your complaint.

The IRS urges taxpayers to be vigilant against phone and email scams that claim they are from the IRS. The IRS never initiates contact with taxpayers by email for financial information. The IRS never asks for PINs, passwords or similar confidential access information for credit card, bank or other financial accounts. Never open email attachments or links in an email that claim to be from the IRS. Forward the e-mail to

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