Tax season is in full swing, and as taxpayers diligently work to get their taxes submitted on time, tax season scammers are diligently working to scam victims out of money.

One of the main ways this happens is when scammers pose as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), trying to convince you to give them personal information and, in many cases, money.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says that IRS imposters will claim you owe taxes and demand that you pay up immediately. The scammers will also say if you don’t pay up, you’ll face arrest, deactivation of your Social Security number, deportation or other consequences. These are all empty threats designed to scare victims into giving up money or information to the scammer.

How can you tell the difference between a scammer and an actual IRS representative? Here are some tips:

  • If the interaction began with the other person contacting you via phone or email, it is likely a scammer. The IRS will first contact you via U.S. mail.
  • If the individual is requesting that you pay via a prepaid debit card or money transfer, you’re likely speaking with a scammer. The IRS generally won’t require a specific type of payment.

In a March 5, 2020 press release, Treasury Inspector General J. Russell George warns taxpayers that these callers can be aggressive and relentless. “Once they have your attention, they will say anything to con you out of your hard-earned cash,” George said.

If a scammer calls you, the best thing to do is hang up. You may also report the call by contacting the Treasury Inspector General at 800-366-4484 or online at tigta.gov.

If you receive a call from a scammer and you’re sure you don’t owe the IRS money, you can still double check. The IRS says taxpayers are always able to find out if they owe back taxes by visiting irs.gov/balancedue or by calling 800-829-1040.

Learn more about IRS imposter scams.

Watch this video about IRS imposter scams.

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