BBB Warns of IRS Phone Threats

July 18, 2014

Tax season may be over but that has not stopped scammers from continuing to pose as IRS officials and making calls threatening jail time and loss of property. Thousands of calls have been made to individuals across the country with total losses around one million dollars.

Callers to Better Business Bureau (BBB) say they have received voicemail messages stating they need to contact the IRS immediately or they would face legal consequences. Other messages threatened arrest by U.S. Marshals for failure to pay the correct amount of taxes.

In addition to claiming to be from the IRS, other individuals say they have been called by people stating they were with the U.S. Treasury; although it is a different government agency, the scam remains the same. These IRS and tax-related phone scams are being reported to BBBs nationwide.

“In these types of situations, it’s important for consumers to not give out any personal information over the phone or through email,” said Jim Hegarty, president and CEO of your BBB.  “The IRS will not call taxpayers directly, but rather send notifications through U.S. Mail.”

According to the IRS, the agency never contacts taxpayers by phone requesting money. They also never contact taxpayers by email. If there is an issue with the IRS that requires your response, the contact would be made by U.S. mail.

BBB recommends the following tips if you receive one of these scam phone calls:

  • Hang Up - Don’t provide any information over the phone. Call the IRS directly using the phone number found on their legitimate website.
  • Protect Personal Information - In response to an incoming call, never give out any personal or financial information such as your Social Security number, financial information or any passwords and other identifying information.
  • IRS Contacts via U.S. Mail - If a caller claiming to be an IRS agent notifies you of an outstanding tax debt, but you haven’t received official notification from the IRS through the United States Postal Service, it is most likely a scam. The IRS always starts by sending taxpayers written notification of any tax due via U.S. Mail.
  • Look Out for Spoofing - Part of scammers’ sophisticated tactics include ‘spoofing,’ which happens when the caller masks their own number and causes the number of a well-known service, like the IRS, to appear on caller ID.
  • Contact the FTC - File a formal complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at From the complaint homepage, select “Other” and then “Imposter Scams”. In the notes, include “IRS Telephone Scam”.

If you or someone you know receives a threatening phone call claiming to be with the US government, report it to your BBB by calling 800-649-6814 or email For more information you can trust, visit