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Who’s Calling—the IRS…or a Scammer?

The tax filing season may be over this year, but the IRS telephone scams continue.

The IRS warns taxpayers of callers claiming to represent the IRS. These phony callers may demand you pay tax owed, or notify you of a refund so you’ll provide your bank information for a direct deposit.

Be on guard—these callers can be convincing! They may give you a fake IRS badge number, and even alter the caller ID to make it appear they’re really calling from the government.

The scammers may have been able to gather enough information about you from the Internet to make you think they know all about you. If you don’t answer the phone, they may leave messages indicating it’s urgent you return the call.

Since the scam artists are so convincing, how can you be sure they’re not from the IRS? Here are five clues you’re dealing with a scammer:

  1. The IRS always mails you an official notice before calling. If you haven’t received a notice, you’re probably talking to a scammer.
  2. The IRS allows you to question or appeal the amount of tax owed. Scammers just demand money.
  3. The IRS takes payment via check or credit cards, as well as direct debit from your bank account. Payment plans may be available. Con artists often insist you pay by a particular method, such as a prepaid debit card.
  4. The IRS does not ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone. If you wish to pay by credit or debit card, you must make arrangements with a service provider and pay a fee.
  5. The IRS does not threaten taxpayers with imminent arrest if you don’t pay immediately.

Suppose you owe money, or think you might owe: contact the IRS yourself to talk about payment options. Call an agent at 800-829-1040 or log onto the IRS website at

If you’re sure you don’t owe taxes, hang up on the scammer and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484 or You can also contact the Federal Trade Commission and report the scam using the FTC Complaint Assistant.

Remember: the IRS doesn’t presently use unsolicited email, text or social media to discuss your personal tax issues. If you receive any communications via these media, report them as scams.

Stay safe! If you need professional assistance in tax preparation or interceding with the IRS, get in touch with us at Patrick & Robinson CPAs: or 904-396-5400.

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