5 On Your Side

IRS posers threaten, scam tax payers across U.S.

Posted March 5, 2014
Updated March 6, 2014

The phone rings and it's the IRS - or so says the caller on the other end. The conversation that follows is aggressive, demanding and frightening. But Consumer Reports said what's really going on is a scam.

People posing as IRS employees are targeting and calling tax payers at home, demanding money and threatening them with arrests or prosecution. 

"The imposters can be quite convincing," said senior editor of Consumer Reports Tobie Stanger. "They often use phony names and IRS badge numbers. They even enlist accomplices who claim to be the police."

Stanger said the scams, which are luring people with promises of a faster or bigger refund, are happening across the country. 

She said the details - even though they're phony - are what trick people like Allen Abram.

Allen Abrams was a victim of the scam and said he was shocked when someone sounding like a legitimate IRS agent called his house and demanded a $5,000 tax payment.

"(They said) I would be handcuffed and thrown in jail," he said. "It was absolutely the most terrifying thing I have experienced that I can remember."

One WRAL viewer emailed 5 On your Side after getting a call from a supposed IRS agent saying she owed $3,000 in back taxes. The caller said she would be arrested at her home that day if she didn't pay.

"(He) sounded official, quoted laws and codes and frightened me," the viewer said.

Other tricks used include sending texts and e-mails demanding confidential information missing from tax returns.

Stanger said these schemes are aimed at getting important data like a Social Security number.

"That way the scam artist can steal your identity, and then they can claim your refund using a fraudulent tax return," she said.

Typically, the IRS initiates contact through regular mail - not email, text, social media or phone, Consumer Reports said. The IRS also does not ask for personal information electronically. In addition, the agency does not ask for credit card numbers, pre-paid debit cards or wire transfers.

Visit {{A href="external_link-13452698"}}the official IRS website{{\a}} to report any tax scams to the IRS or to read more about the "Dirty Dozen" tax scams, visit.

Those who owe taxes or think they do should call the IRS at 800-829-1040.

Those who don't owe taxes, but receive a questionable email or phone call, should call and report it to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484. Scam victims should also use the Federal Trade Commissions "FTC Complaint Assistant" at FTC.gov and add "IRS Telephone Scam" to the comments in your complaint.

Those who believe they are the target of an email phishing for confidential information can also send a complaint to phishing@irs.gov.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • glarg Mar 10, 2014

    the word "posers" in the headline is unnecessary

  • Brian Jenkins Mar 7, 2014

    I cant believe people still fall for such nonsense. Put you in jail the same day? Really? Fear does work. Fear is powerful.

  • bbmom18 Mar 7, 2014

    I actually got 2 of these calls this morning. My phone said the call was from the San Fransico area and the first call came in around 8am this morning which means they were making the call around 4am. I let them leave a message and it was someone who could hardly speak English using the same tactics as described by Monica. I could also hear people in the background saying the same thing he was saying. I kept the message but could tell clearly it was a scam. Be careful!!!

  • Maurice Pentico Jr. Mar 6, 2014
    user avatar

    I got one of these calls the other day.... the caller left me a message indicating I had back taxes and prosecution was imminent unless I called back. Of course, the guy that called could barely speak english... so I laughed it off. I kinda wish I had called them back.

  • Andy Hairston Mar 6, 2014
    user avatar

    Always remember - when the phone rings, no matter what the caller ID says, there's no way of knowing who's REALLY on the other end of the line. Don't provide ANY information to people who call you!