Financial Fitness

IRS Phone Scam? 4 Ways You Can Recognize a Tax Scam and Stay Safe

Baby red-tail hawk

When you’ve worked in identity theft restoration and data breaches for more than a decade, you learn to pick up on patterns.

After helping resolve IRS fraud for more members than I’d hope, I’ve reached a point where helping members stay secure during tax season isn’t just my job; it’s my mission.

There are patterns you can spot that will help you recognize an IRS phone scam and avoid tax season scams altogether.

For example, you’ve probably received one of those calls where the caller says they’re from the IRS and you’re in danger. Oh no!

They might say that they’re filing a lawsuit against you for back taxes. Often they’ll demand that you call in quickly and provide sensitive personal information to avoid punishment. Perhaps they might even threaten to arrest or deport you.

What do you do next? Protect yourself with these counters.

If you get a call like the one above from someone claiming to be from the IRS:

  1. Hang up. Don’t give personal or financial information to someone claiming to be from the IRS. When in doubt, call the IRS directly at 1-800-428-1040.
  2. Refuse to send money, whether by wire transfer, prepaid card or gift card to someone claiming to be from the IRS. That’s a textbook IRS phone scam right there. The IRS will not require any specific method of payment.
  3. Report the call. Report phony IRS calls to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at tigta.gov or to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.
  4. Tell your community. Let your family and friends know about IRS phone scams and imposters.

When you’re the victim of fraud, the people around you can suffer too – especially if you are responsible for their well-being.

Help protect yourself and your family. Follow these tips to stay safe and happy this tax season!


About the author: DJ Jones joined the Unitus Community Credit Union family in May 2018 to lead the Fraud & Security Department.

She brings over twenty-five years’ experience in investigations with a background that encompasses data breach remediation, identity theft restoration, insurance and legal investigations and financial services.

Originally from Alabama (Roll Tide!), Portland has been her home for 18 years. She and her wife are self-described foodies that love to travel and explore.

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