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June 10, 2022

David Barnes

TIGTA Releases Public Service Announcements Warning Taxpayers of the Ongoing Threat of IRS Impersonation Scams

WASHINGTON – J. Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, today announced the release of new public service announcements (PSAs) to educate taxpayers about the continuing threat of Internal Revenue Service (IRS) impersonation scams.

The English and Spanish-language PSAs are available on TIGTA's YouTube Channel.

“IRS impersonation scams continue to plague Americans and have claimed victims in every State,” George said. “TIGTA’s new public service announcements share advice on how to recognize these scams. If you receive a suspicious phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, just hang up.”

Scammers undermine Federal tax administration by impersonating IRS employees in an effort to obtain personally identifiable information (PII) from unsuspecting taxpayers or to steal their money. Such impersonators may claim to be IRS employees on the telephone or may misuse IRS logos, seals, or symbols to create official-looking letters and e-mails.

Impersonators often tell their victims that they owe money to the IRS and must pay through a preloaded debit card, wire transfer, or gift card from Apple iTunes, Walmart, or Target. Sometimes they trick taxpayers into providing their PII, which the impersonator then uses to commit identity theft.

Between October 2013 and March 2022, TIGTA logged more than 2.5 million contacts from taxpayers who reported that they had communicated with individuals who claimed to be IRS employees. The impersonators told the victims that they owed additional taxes and that if they did not immediately pay, they would be arrested or face other adverse consequences.

As of March 31, 2022, 16,038 victims have reported to TIGTA that they had lost more than $85 million, collectively, to impersonation scams. TIGTA has initiated 893 impersonation scam related investigations, which, as of March 2022, have resulted in 300 individuals being charged in Federal court. Of those, 197 individuals have been convicted and sentenced collectively to more than 910 years’ imprisonment and ordered to pay more than $224 million in restitution.1

Because of their complexity, scams such as these are not typically resolved quickly. These wide-ranging scams have claimed victims in every State. The top five States by number of victims who have suffered financial losses are California, New York, Texas, Florida, and New Jersey.

In addition to scam phone calls, taxpayers may encounter fraudulent IRS websites, or receive social media-based communications and/or phishing e-mails, text messages, or other communications, that claim to be from the IRS and ask for sensitive PII or payments in order to receive a tax refund or credit, such as the Economic Impact Payment or Child Tax Credit. These are scams. Taxpayers should not click on any embedded links or open any attached files. Scammers may use these methods to install malicious software on a victim’s phone or computer.

Scammers may also try to convince victims to deposit fraudulent or stolen U.S. Treasury checks into a victim’s bank account. After the victim makes the deposit, the scammers request that the victim send funds from that deposit to another account, or use those funds to purchase prepaid cards.

“TIGTA is committed to protecting the integrity of tax administration,” Inspector General George stated. “Those individuals attempting to impersonate the Internal Revenue Service will be investigated.”

Please report impersonation scam attempts to TIGTA at tips.TIGTA.gov.

1Beginning in Fiscal Year 2022, the methodology TIGTA used to calculate statistics was changed to account for data that had been updated from investigations closed in previous fiscal years.