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Small Business Tips

Tax Tip Tuesday: Beware IRS Phone Scams

Stephen Fishman
Tax expert and contributor MileIQ

Now that tax season is upon us, we’re again hearing public warnings about phone scammers who falsely claim to be from the IRS. Tens of thousands of Americans have been receiving IRS phone scams demanding money or seeking private financial information. These scammers try to scare people into sending them money by making threats that they’ll go to jail or have their driver’s license revoked if you don’t pay.The IRS says there are five easy ways to spot a scam phone call. The IRS will never:

  • call you about taxes you owe without first mailing you an official IRS notice
  • demand that you pay taxes without giving you the chance to question or appeal the amount they say you owe
  • require you to use a certain payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card
  • ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone, or
  • threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement to have you arrested for not paying.

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If you get a scam  phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money or your personal financial information, here’s what the IRS says you should do:

  • First, hang up the phone without giving the caller any information.
  • If you owe the IRS taxes, or think you might owe, call the IRS at 800-829-1040 to talk about setting up a payment plan. You may even be able to set up a plan online at gov, using their Online Payment Agreement Application.
  • If you know you don’t owe taxes, report the call  the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 800-366-4484 or report the incident online at
  • If phone scammers target you, also contact the Federal Trade Commission at gov. Use their “FTC Complaint Assistant” to report the scam. Add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments of your complaint.

You can find information about all types of IRS phone scams at

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