Is it a Scam? How to Know if the IRS is Really Calling

Here we are, in the middle of tax season and the scammers are coming on thick!  Years ago, in the world of paper returns and checks being mailed, you had to worry about a check being stolen, but now? 

The scammers are far smarter, and they can be anywhere in the world. 

IRS scams are everywhere, bilking people out of thousands of dollars and fraudulently obtaining their personal information.  The problems are so many and varied, the IRS actually documents what they refer to as “The Dirty Dozen” series of scams, but for this email, I want to concentrate on some of the nuances many scams have in common… the telephone. 

Phone scams are big at tax season – for several reasons, chief among them, the ability to be all but untraceable.  A VOIP phone line or a Google phone number and a neutral accent and script is about all that’s needed.  The thing to remember is that the real IRS will never:

  • Call to demand an immediate payment using something like a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer.  If the IRS wants money from you, they will send a letter first.  It won’t come as a surprise.
  • Threaten you.  The IRS will never say they are going to bring police or any other kind of law enforcement person to arrest you.  Frankly, when I hear things like this, I get a chuckle, but I know it can be terrifying to the “right” person.  Remember, the IRS doesn’t “arrest” people for debts. 
  • Demand tax payments without offering you the opportunity to appeal or even ask for details about the demand.
  • Call you about a tax refund.  They might write to you, but they won’t call you first.  Think of it like this:  the government LOVES to get your money, but they always seem slow to give it back to you.  Realistically, do you think they want to refund you faster? 

If you receive calls like this, or even ones that seem to be “off,”  note the number and hang up.  You can report the scam at and if it really was the IRS, any contact with you, as a taxpayer, should have been preceded by a letter long before the phone ever rang. 

As always, reach out to me or the team if you’ve got concerns or questions!

Chat soon,


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