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IRS warns of phone scam

Posted at 11:17 AM, Jun 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-16 00:37:34-04

The Internal Revenue Service is warning of a phone scam targeting taxpayers.

"What they're telling people nowadays is that we tried to contact you by mail, but it was sent back undeliverable," IRS Special Agent Brian Watson said. "It sounds very plausible if a letter from the IRS got returned."

According to the IRS, scammers claiming to be from the agency call people demanding immediate payment via a prepaid debit card. They also say they sent two certified letters to the home that were returned as undeliverable, and are told not to contact an attorney or a local IRS office until after payment is made.

Watson explained the IRS will never call out of the blue, and will only get in touch via phone if there had been previous established contact between them and the taxpayer.

"You'll have already made contact with them, it'll be a pre-existing audit or collection issue," he said. "Something like that."

Reiterating ways to spot scams, Watson added the IRS will never demand money over the phone, will never ask for a credit or debit card number over the phone, and will never require a taxpayer to use any specific form of payment.

The goal of this scam?

"They want you to panic and want you to give that money before you can say no," Watson said.

"This is a new twist to an old scam," said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, in a statement. "Just because tax season is over, scams and schemes do not take the summer off. People should stay vigilant against IRS impersonation scams. People should remember that the first contact they receive from IRS will not be through a random, threatening phone call."

To verify that a call is from the IRS, call 800-829-1040. 

"They can tell you if you owe an outstanding tax debt, or have any issues," Watson said.