BBB Alert: IRS Phone Scam Is Back

July 17, 2014

Roanoke, VA  – BBB is alerting Virginia residents that a phone scam involving con artists pretending to be IRS agents is back in the area. According to consumers, IRS impersonators are calling residents and demanding that they pay taxes they don’t actually owe and are told to send the funds via a prepaid card or wire transfer. Anyone who refuses to pay immediately is threatened with jail time, deportation, suspension of business or driver’s licenses, and other threats in an attempt to intimidate and scare into submission.

The fake IRS agents have been known to use a computer program to make the real IRS phone number appear on caller ID, quote false badge numbers, and use call centers that use background noise to seem legitimate. These scammers may also have the last four digits of a person’s Social Security number among other personal information. Victims and targets of this scam have also reported receiving calls from people claiming to be the police department or DMV after refusing to pay.

Follow these tips in order to protect yourself from this IRS scam and others like it:

  • Beware of any caller claiming to be from the IRS and demanding money. The IRS will never ask for payments by wire transfer or a prepaid card and will typically alert taxpayers of unpaid taxes via the mail, not a phone call.
  • Never give anyone money or credit card information over the phone.
  • Pre-paid debit cards, wire transfers, and money orders are no different than sending cash. Anyone who demands these forms of payment should be approached with caution and suspicion. Never use these forms of payment unless you know the receiving party and recognize the risks.
  • Never trust callers who use threats and hostility to bully their targets into doing what they want. This is a tactic many scammers use.
  • Be skeptical of what a caller claims he or she can do if you refuse to meet their demand. An IRS agent will not get the police or an immigration agency involved just because you owe taxes.
  • If you’ve been targeted by this scam, you should contact the Federal Trade Commission and use their “FTC Complaint Assistant” at
  • Start with Trust. Check with the BBB before doing business. Be sure to check out a company’s BBB Business Review, rating and complaint history. BBB Business Reviews can be found at

If you need more information, contact the BBB at (540) 342-3455 or (800) 533-5501. You can also visit  Follow us on Twitter  and on Facebook.