BBB Advisory: Fraudulent Calls Using IRS Name

January 27, 2014
Filing your Federal Income Taxes is taxing enough without receiving calls claiming you owe back taxes. The Internal Revenue Service and the BBB are reporting a phone scam targeting taxpayers throughout the country. Victims are told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. If the victim refuses to cooperate, they are threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license. In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting.

Callers may use the following tactics in order to appear legitimate:

• Use fake names and IRS badge numbers. They generally use common names to identify themselves 

• They may be able to recite the last four digits of a victim’s Social Security Number

• Make the IRS toll-free number display on caller ID to make it 
appear that it’s the IRS calling.

• Create background noise of other calls being conducted to mimic a call center.

These types of fraudulent solicitations may also originate through email or social media accounts. The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. This includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels. The IRS also does not ask for PINs, passwords or similar confidential access information for credit card, bank or other financial accounts. Recipients should not open any attachments or click on any links contained in the message. 

“The IRS will never call you and ask for payment of taxes due. They will not ask for your credit card numbers or request a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer. Hang up the phone if anyone calls claiming to be the IRS and threatens you.”

BBB recommends the following steps if you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS:

• If you know you owe taxes or you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS at (800) 829-1040. 

• If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to think that you owe any taxes, then call and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at (800) 366-4484.

• Contact the Federal Trade Commission and use their “FTC Complaint Assistant” at Please add "IRS Telephone Scam" to the comments of your complaint.