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What to do if the IRS calls

“The IRS called me out of the blue…now what?”

We are getting this question frequently at our office and felt a responsibility to communicate some important information to our clients and friends. As a general rule, the IRS does not call taxpayers. Con artists pretending to be with the IRS are one of the most stubborn and prevalent scams facing the service. The criminals can be convincing and may have one’s personal information and an altered caller ID. These individuals, fraudulently claiming to be IRS officers, use shock and fear to trick taxpayers into providing financial information over the phone. The IRS reminds taxpayers: the first IRS contact is usually a notice sent through the mail.

Tips to spot a fake caller are straightforward. An IRS agent will not:

  • Call to demand immediate payment or call about taxes owed without first having mailed a bill.

  • Demand that you pay taxes without providing an opportunity to question or appeal the amount.

  • 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.

So what should you do if you receive one of these calls? The service website provides guidance:

  • If you know you owe taxes or think you might, call the IRS at 1.800.829.1040 to get help.

  • If you know you do not owe taxes or have no reason to believe that you do, report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 1.800.366.4484 or

  • You can file a complaint using the FTC Complaint Assistant; choose “Other” and then “Imposter Scams.” If the complaint involves someone impersonating the IRS, include the words “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.

If you believe you have been the subject of this or any other IRS scam, please contact us at 615-244-3991.

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