How Do You Know If a Call From the IRS Is a Fraud?

Calls claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service are frauds if they concern unpaid taxes because the IRS contacts people by mail about unpaid taxes, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Additionally, the IRS doesn't require payment by a particular method or demand credit card numbers or other personal or financial information. The IRS also warns that people making angry threats or insisting on immediate payment are not legitimate tax agents.

Criminals scamming taxpayers attempt to deceive them by using false names, ID numbers and caller ID, explains the IRS. They sometimes attempt to back up phone calls with email messages and by knowing the last four digits of the victim's Social Security number. The scammers threaten noncompliant taxpayers with arrest, incarceration and driver's license revocation to pressure their victims to act quickly. Sometimes, they hang up and call back in the guise of the local police to further threaten taxpayers. Taxpayers who receive calls purportedly from tax authorities should hang up and make direct calls to the IRS, as the agency itself advises.

If they suspect fraud, they can report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration or the Federal Trade Commission. Taxpayers should never give personal or financial information to callers or wire money to companies or individuals they don't know, according to the Federal Trade Commission.