How to Recognize an IRS Imposter Scam

We’ve talked about tax identity theft in the past, however, IRS imposter scams are a bit different. Imposters go to great lengths to manipulate their victims, and there appears to be no slowing for this type of crime. Here are some things to look out for to recognize these scams.

What is an imposter scam?
Let’s start with the basics. Imposter scams occur when the scammer pretends to be someone you know or trust to coerce you into sending money. You may receive a strange call from someone you know – family member or friend – asking for money. Or, possibly a call from a government official requesting to wire money. Regardless of the reason, the motivation for imposter scams is always the same: money.

How to recognize an IRS imposter scam?
IRS imposter scams occur when the caller claims you owe taxes or there is an issue with your return, and requests you send money via wire transfer or other form of payment. The caller will claim he/she is from the IRS, and may threaten to sue or arrest you if they don’t receive the money. Now what?

How to avoid becoming a victim?
Here’s what you can do to help avoid becoming a victim of an IRS imposter scam:

  • Don’t panic. Check to see if the call was legitimate by calling the person directly, the government entity or someone you trust. You can visit or call the IRS directly at 800.829.1040 for tax-related questions.
  • Think before dipping into your wallet. Remember, no government agency will request you to wire money or pay with a pre-paid debit card. And, when the IRS first contacts you about unpaid taxes, it is through the mail – not by email or phone.
  • Sharing is caring. Share this information with friends and family. Imposter scams have been around for years, and there appears to be no slowing. While you may not have been victimized by this type of crime, the chances are you know someone who has.
  • Invest in identity restoration services. If you become a victim and your personal or financial information is compromised, identity restoration service can provide peace-of-mind. These services may walk you through certain restoration activities, like contacting your bank or filing a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Be sure to check out for more information on how to identify an imposter scam. The FTC has recently released educational videos and articles to help individuals avoid some of the most common imposter scams. As always, follow our blog for more advice and tips.