The IRS is warning taxpayers about a new twist on the IRS impersonation phone scam. The IRS says criminals can now fake calls from the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS). This scam comes after years of hackers and scammers pretending to be the IRS to trick taxpayers out of thousands of dollars. The scams have evolved each year making it harder for taxpayers to know if they are being scammed.
Similar to previous IRS impersonation scams, in the new Taxpayer Advocate scam, scammers make unsolicited phone calls to their intended victims fraudulently claiming to be from the IRS. In this scam, the caller can “spoof” the telephone number of the IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service office in Houston or Brooklyn. Calls may be ‘robocalls’ that ask you to give them a callback. If you return the call, the scammer then requests your personal information, including your Social Security number or your individual taxpayer identification number. Some scammers also aggressively demand payment of taxes via prepaid debit card or wire transfer.
In other variations of the scam, some will tell victims that they are entitled to a large refund but must provide personal information. The callers will use a fake name and a fake IRS badge number to identify themselves. They may also know the last four digits of your Social Security number.
If you receive a call like this, remember the IRS never demands payment over the phone and does not ask for prepaid debit cards, gift cards or wire transfers. The IRS will generally mail a bill to you first before calling. The IRS will never threaten to immediately bring the local police or law enforcement in to arrest you for not paying. You always have the option to appeal or question the amount you owe, and the IRS has to respect it. The IRS will also never call about an unexpected refund.
Taxpayer Advocate Service is an independent organization within the IRS that is there to assist and protect taxpayers. TAS can protect your rights as a taxpayer, or help you resolve an issue with the IRS. It’s important to know that TAS does not initiate calls to taxpayers “out of the blue”. TAS will generally only contact you if you contact them first.