People are getting fake calls from the "IRS." Here’s how to tell if you’re getting scammed

People are getting fake calls from the "IRS." Here’s how to tell if you’re getting scammed
Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

If you received a robocall from the IRS this summer, it probably was a fake. It might have sounded something like this:

"The reason of this call is to inform you that IRS is filing lawsuit against you. To get more information about this case file, please call immediately on our department number XXX-XXX-XXXX. I repeat XXX-XXX-XXXX."

I repeat, it's probably not the IRS. 

There has been a spike in IRS robocall scammers this summer, which have aimed to scare people into coughing up money in the form of iTunes gift cards or other types of gift cards, according to the IRS. And these scammers are increasingly leaning on machines to help them do their dirty work.

"It used to be that most of these bogus calls would come from a live-person," said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen in a statement. "Scammers are evolving and using more and more automated calls in an effort to reach the largest number of victims possible. Taxpayers should remain alert for this summer surge of phone scams, and watch for clear warning signs as these scammers change tactics."  

IRS says on its website that people "can know pretty easily when a supposed IRS caller is fake." It says that the IRS will never demand an immediate payment. It would never make you "pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe," require a specific payment method, ask for your credit or debit card numbers over the phone, or threaten to have you arrested. 

If you do receive a call from a human or machine that exhibits any of the above behaviors, the IRS says you should call its legitimate contact line, report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration or file a complaint noting that it is an "IRS Telephone Scam." 

The IRS also notes that it doesn't send unsolicited email, texts or social media messages.

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Melanie Ehrenkranz

Melanie is a writer covering technology and the future. She can be reached at melanie@mic.com.

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