IRS Phone Scam Demanding Money or Jail Time

December 06, 2013

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning consumers about a phone scam that is demanding money and threatening jail time.

The BBB has been receiving phone calls from consumers who have been contacted by the "IRS" saying they owe money and it must be paid promptly. Consumers are instructed to buy a preloaded debit card or wire transfer funds. If the victim refuses to cooperate they are threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of business or drivers license. The caller often times becomes very demanding, hostile and insulting.

The BBB wants consumers to know that the IRS will never ask you for credit card numbers or the phone or request a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer. The IRS will most likely contact taxpayers via mail in regards to tax issues.

These callers are trying to scare consumers into paying them money they don't owe. Consumers should not be threatened into making payments they don't owe. The scammers use these strong arm tactics because they know many people will pay the money to avoid being arrested.

Some other characteristics of this scam:

  • Scammers use fake names and IRS badge numbers
  • Scammer may have the last 4 digits of your Social Security number.
  • Scammers can spoof IRS phone numbers making appear the call is really from the IRS
  • Victims can hear background noises of other calls being conducted to mimic a call site.
  • After threatening jail time or deportation, scammers hang up and soon call back pretending to be from he local police, to help support their claim.

The BBB recommends the following if you receive a similar type call:

  • If you know you owe taxes or think you might owe taxes, call he IRS at 1.800.829.1040.
  • If you know you don't owe taxes, call and report the incident to  the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1.800.366.4484.
  • If you've been targeted by this scam you should also contact the Federal Trade Commission and use their Complaint Assistant at
  • If you are not sure if the call is legitimate or not, contact the Better Business Bureau at 1.800.362.0494 or