Reporting an I.R.S. Telephone Scam

by Placerville Newswire / Aug 01, 2016 / comments

Q. With phishing email, I can forward the message to the authorities, but how do you officially report those obvious phone scams from robot voices purporting to be from the Internal Revenue Service?

A. Phone calls and answering machine messages claiming to be from the I.R.S. and demanding money for alleged tax bills can happen year-round. The messages left on an answering machine often use awkward phrasing and sound distinctly like a computer reciting script with its text-to-speech function and synthesized voice.

If you have filed your return, do not owe any taxes and have deduced that the call is a hustle, you can file a report on the website of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, which has a special form forI.R.S. Impersonation Scam Reporting. You can also send an email message with the subject line “I.R.S. Phone Scam” to to report the call. In either case, include the number you were asked to call and any other information about the experience.

If you pick up a call and get a live person on the line who claims to be from the I.R.S., do not give out any personal information, even if the caller recites the last four digits of your Social Security number. Ask for the employee’s name, badge number and the telephone number to call back. Then call 800-366-4484 yourself — it is the official number for the Treasury Inspector General’s hotline in Washington, but a spoofed version of those same digits may have been displayed on your Caller ID screen to feign legitimacy.

When you are talking to an official government employee, provide the original caller’s information and ask about your account status, just to confirm that you are dealing with a scammer. (If you know you owe taxes and have questions, you can call the I.R.S. itself at 800-829-1040.)

The I.R.S. has stated on numerous occasions that it first contacts people with a letter in the mail if there is an issue with a tax payment; the agency also does not initiate contact with a taxpayer over email or social media. To keep up-to-date with the various fraud schemes going around, visit the “Imposter Scams” page on the Federal Trade Commission’s website.


Personal Tech invites questions about computer-based technology This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually.