IRS Warns Businesses and Others of Telephone Scam

irs scam

No small business wants to receive a phone call from the IRS. But remember that there are those who exploit the fears small business owners and other taxpayers might harbor about having to deal with big federal agencies.

Recently, we’ve heard of an incident reported by none other than the IRS itself.

How the IRS Telephone Scam Works

Apparently, someone has been calling small business owners and others recently claiming to be from the IRS and attempting to collect taxes that are supposedly owed. The caller tells the person at the other end of the line to make a payment through a preloaded debit card or wire transfer.

Otherwise, the caller warns, there could be trouble. Loss of your business and driver’s licenses is just the beginning. The caller apparently also threatens jail time and, if the recipient of the call is a recent immigrant, deportation!

Sound suspicious? It should.

Don’t Be Fooled

First, the IRS generally contacts tax payers by mail not by phone, the agency says.

The call is likely an attempt to get a hold of your credit card information, which would be necessary to immediately make the payment.

But in an official release, IRS Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel insists:

Rest assured, we do not and will not ask for credit card numbers over the phone, nor request a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer. If someone unexpectedly calls claiming to be from the IRS and threatens police arrest, deportation or license revocation if you don’t pay immediately, that is a sign that it really isn’t the IRS calling.

So, no matter how intimidating it might be to have someone call up claiming to be from the IRS, exercise some skepticism.

Don’t give away your credit card number or any other important business or personal information. Don’t do it even if a toll free IRS number comes up on your caller ID. Don’t do it even if the caller seems to know the last four digits of your social security number.

These are just a few more of the tricks scammers will use to try to convince you, IRS officials say.

You can always call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 to find out if there really is a problem.

If you think you’ve received one of these scam telephone calls, report it to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1-800-366-4484.

If you think you may already be a victim, contact the Federal Trade Commission’s “FTC Complaint Assistant” and include  “IRS Telephone Scam” in the comment on the complaint.

Scam Photo via Shutterstock

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Shawn Hessinger Shawn Hessinger is the Executive Editor for Small Business Trends and a professional journalist with more than 20 years experience in traditional and digital media for trade publications and news sites. He is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and has served as a beat reporter, columnist, editorial writer, bureau chief and managing editor for the Berks Mont Newspapers.

3 Reactions
  1. I wish people wouldn’t fall for these ruses, but sadly they do. Thanks for the heads up!

  2. Great post to inform your readers of the current scams out there. Also, there is another scam involving the Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, For those interested they can read more about it at