How to Know if Your IRS Call is a Scam

As the tax season comes to an end, IRS scammers are prepared to take advantage of people during hard times. IRS scammers are imposters who pose as the IRS in order to scam at-risk Americans like senior citizens or low-income individuals. However, they can call anyone.

What to Expect with a Scammer

These scammers typically use phone calls in order to take advantage of people. However, the tone of the phone call can usually go two ways. It can either be based on using fear, or on using reward. When the scammer calls using the fear approach, they will tell their victim that they owe taxes and need to pay immediately in order to avoid any consequences. They usually say that legal consequences will occur if you do not provide the necessary vital information. However, if they take the reward phone call route then they may say that you are due a refund and they need your bank account information in order to provide that money to you. Either tone of the call, they usually have background information about the victim, have a fake caller ID that reads as IRS, and even have fake employee information about the person calling you.

It is important to know how the IRS normally goes about their procedures in order to better lookout for scams. The real IRS will always begin an official correspondence with a person through the mail if they are trying to collect money, these calls will not come out of nowhere. If you receive a call from the IRS, then hang up and contact the IRS directly or TIGTA (Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration) in order to properly follow up on any potential issues.

What to Look for with a Scam Phone Call

You should understand other common warning signs that you have received a scam phone call.

1. Asks for credit/debit card information

The IRS will never under any circumstances call you and ask for your card information. This should be an immediate red flag that something fishy is going on.

2. Needs Payment Immediately

If you haven’t received a letter in the mail, then you will never receive a phone call. So right away you should be wary of this call. If they then say that they need the money right away, you know to hang up and call the proper agency.

3. Wants payment in a weird way like a prepaid debit card

This is not a proper form of payment and is definitely a scam.

4. Warns you of arrest

If the person on the phone is calling about an arrest, then you should hang up and call the proper agency. The IRS will not threaten arrest if you have an outstanding balance.

5. Doesn’t Allow You to Appeal

If you are unable to appeal your tax bills, then that is a huge red flag of a scam. You will always be able to appeal any tax bill regardless of the size.


Any type of IRS correspondence should be able to check out to these rules. If you have any concerns that you may be getting scammed, then do not be afraid to hang up the phone and call the IRS yourself. It’s better to be safe than sorry!