Hang It Up: Avoid IRS Phone Scams This Tax Season

PSA: Protect Against IRS Phone ScamsIdentity theft continues to top the IRS Dirty Dozen List of Tax Scams for 2016, with the IRS impostor scam closely trailing and on the rise. With taxpayers anxious to avoid any potential trouble with the IRS, they are often left susceptible to these tax-related schemes. Since 2013, more than 5,500 victims have lost nearly $29 million from phone scams.

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The AARP Fraud Watch Network has launched a campaign this tax season to help inform consumers and protect them from common IRS phone scams. Con artists telephone taxpayers while posing as IRS agents, for instance, threatening court action, arrest or deportation if they do not make immediate payment for alleged back taxes.

“People don’t know how the IRS operates, so they get scared,” says Amy Nofziger, AARP Foundation director of regional operations. Many scammers go as far as spoofing the caller ID to make it appear they are calling from an IRS office in Washington, Nofziger says.

If you receive a threatening phone call, Nofziger offers this advice:

  • Hang up: The IRS will never call without sending you an official letter first. You should hang up the phone, call the IRS main number and report the attempted fraud.
  • Don’t share anything: If the scammer begins asking questions, do not share any personal information or otherwise converse.
  • Get alerts: Consumers can sign up for free Fraud Watch Network email alerts to receive warnings and stay up to date on the latest scams in their area.


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For more information about IRS phone scams and other tax-related frauds, go to www.aarp.org/FraudWatchNetwork. Consumers who think they are being targeted by a scammer can call the Fraud Watch helpline at 877-908-3360 toll-free and speak with a trained counselor.

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