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The Old Fake IRS Fraud


One of the most prevalent frauds that never seem to go away is the fake telephone call from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Know this and you won’t get scammed: the IRS is old-fashioned; it uses the snail mail of the U.S. Postal Service to communicate, not the telephone.

Fraudsters impersonating the IRS may contact you in all sorts of ways, usually by phone, letters, e-mails, even unannounced knocks on your door. Often, the perpetrator’s will make threats, try intimidation or bullying. They may threaten to have you arrested or deported if you don’t pay the fraudulent tax bill.

Check out the different frauds at Tax Scams /Consumer Alerts.

The fake- IRS frauds perpetrated by telephone have been around at least as long as the rotary dial phone, but fraudsters continue to come up with new wrinkles.

One in mid-2017 involved a caller posing as the IRS and saying that two certified letters sent to the intended victim were not deliverable. He or she demands payment immediately with a prepaid debit card or the victim will face arrest. The link to purchase the card pretends to be the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System, but in fact, the link leads to the perpetrator. The caller says not to contact anyone about the issue until payment has been made.


The IRS-calling fraud has variations. The caller may claim the IRS is about to indict you, it may say it has questions about a past tax filing, it may demand immediate payment, or it may threaten to have you arrested if you do not pay. You may be asked to pay by a debit card, gift card or wire transfer. The IRS uses none of those payment methods.


The IRS says it instructs taxpayers to make payments out only to the “United States Treasury.” If an agent visits because of an overdue tax bill or a delinquent return or other legal problem, he or she will be carrying two forms of official credentials, and you have the right to see them.

The agency uses private debt collectors only after providing the taxpayer with a written notice for a long-outstanding bill. .If an audit is required, you may be called to set up an appointment or to discuss a certain matter, but only after you have been sent an official notification in advance by mail.

If you are suspicious, the IRS provides this list of whom to contact:

  • Contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration to report a phone scam. Use its “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” web page. You can also call 800-366-4484.
  • Report phone scams to the Federal Trade Commission. Utilize the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on If it’s not too much trouble include “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.
  • Report a spontaneous email guaranteeing to be from the IRS, or an IRS-related part, for example, the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System, to the IRS at

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Written by David Tracey.

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