At least six times in the past two months, viewers have contacted our Consumer Investigative Center to say someone claiming to be from the IRS has called them and demanded money.
It’s a jarring conversation for some.
"I could not sleep last night," wrote Mari Ramos, the day after receiving one such call. "If I ignore [the] call, they would send the police to arrest me."
The IRS says the calls are bogus.
"These con artists can sound convincing when they call," the Internal Revenue Service says on its website. "The IRS reminds people that they can know pretty easily when a supposed IRS caller is a fake."
The IRS lists five "tell-tale" signs of an income tax scam, saying that the agency will NEVER:
- Call to demand immediate payment, nor will it call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.
- Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount it says you owe.
- Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
- Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
- Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
The IRS says it prefers to do its business in writing via the U.S. mail. If you legitimately owe the IRS money, you will receive a bill in the mail as well as an opportunity to appeal.
If you receive a call from someone impersonating the IRS, you can report it the Treasury Inspector General. The toll-free number is 800-366-4484.
For more information and tips about tax scams, visit the IRS website.