WASHINGTON –The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), in support of National Consumer Protection Week and National Slam the Scam Day, released a new flyer as a reminder to taxpayers about fraudulent calls they may receive from individuals impersonating Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Treasury employees.
"As we are in the midst of the tax filing season it is critical that all taxpayers remember to be wary of unsolicited telephone calls and e-mails from individuals claiming to be IRS and Treasury employees," said the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, J. Russell George.
"Despite excellent progress we have made in our investigation of this matter, the callers are aggressive and relentless," Inspector General George added. "Once they have your attention, they will say anything to con you out of your hard-earned cash. TIGTA has worked over the last seven years to pursue those perpetrating this fraud, and we ask you to remain vigilant and report any calls you receive to our website."
Since October 2013, TIGTA has been tracking and investigating this scam, in which criminals impersonate IRS employees in order to extort money from individual taxpayers. To date, more than 2.5 million people have reported to TIGTA that they have received an impersonation call. More than 15,800 victims have reported that they paid the criminal impersonators a total amount of more than $80 million.
On January 9, 2020, the operator of an Indian-based call center pled guilty to one count of wire fraud conspiracy, one count of conspiracy, and admitted to causing a total loss of $25 million to $65 million through use of IRS impersonation scam tactics. Read the Department of Justice press release.
This is the latest of 16 individuals recently charged in Federal court in connection with the IRS Impersonation scam, bringing the total number of individuals charged through TIGTA's efforts in Federal court in connection with this scam to 170 people (from 2013 through January 31, 2020). Ninety-three of those individuals have been sentenced and collectively received a total of more than 393 years' imprisonment.
TIGTA's new flyer contains the following information to educate taxpayers:
- The IRS generally first contacts people by mail - not by phone - about unpaid taxes
- The IRS may attempt to reach you by telephone, but will not insist on payment using an iTunes card, gift card, prepaid debit card, money order, or wire transfer.
- The IRS will never request personal or financial information by e-mail, text, or any social media.
If you receive a call from someone claiming to be with the IRS asking for a payment, take the following action:
- If you owe Federal taxes, or think you might owe taxes, just hang up and call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040. IRS employees can help you with your payment questions.
- If you do not owe taxes, fill out the "IRS Impersonation Scam" form on TIGTA's website, www.tigta.gov, or call TIGTA at 1-800-366-4484.
- You can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at www.FTC.gov. Add "IRS Telephone Scam" to the comments in your complaint.
Inspector General George encourages taxpayers to be alert to phone and e-mail scams that use the IRS name and logo. Forward suspected scam e-mails to firstname.lastname@example.org. Do not open any attachments or click on any links in those e-mails. Also, be aware of other unrelated scams (such as saying you are a lottery or sweepstakes winner) and solicitations (such as debt relief offers) that fraudulently claim to be from the IRS.
The flyer can be viewed on TIGTA's public website.