WARNING: Beware of Tax Scams

February 8, 2016

As the 2015 tax deadline approaches, tax scams are ratcheting up.  The IRS has reported an increase in tax scams, especially by phone.  Some of the most common scams involve con-artists who pretend to be from the IRS and call victims telling them they have to pay right now, or else. 

Don't believe it - the IRS has formal processes in place for people with tax issues, and angry harassing calls like these are not how the IRS does business.  The IRS will NEVER:

  • Call you to demand immediate payment. The IRS will not call you if you owe taxes without first sending you a bill in the mail.
  • Demand that you pay taxes and not allow you to question or appeal the amount you owe.
  • Require that you pay your taxes a certain way. For instance, require that you pay with a prepaid debit card.
  • Threaten to bring in police or other agencies to arrest you for not paying.

If you receive such a call, do not give out any information.  Hang up immediately.

If you're concerned the call might be from a legitimate IRS representative, call the IRS back at 800-829-1040 to verify the caller.

Tax scams are also commonly perpetrated by email (called "phishing" scams) and by regular U.S. mail.  Scammers will often copy official IRS letterhead or logo to use in the fraudulent messages they send to victims.  Or the scams may appear to come from another official source, such as purporting to be from the UC payroll department asking you to login to access your W2 form.

Even if you don't provide the information the crooks are looking for, clicking a link or opening an attachment can download malicious software on to your computer that could allow the sender to access your passwords or bank account information, and lead to identity theft.

Bottom line, it's a scam.  The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers through email.

To protect yourself and your personal information:

Additional Resources:

Visit these pages for more information from the IRS about tax scams:

Tax season scam alert from the UC Office of the President:

More information about phishing scams and how to recognize them: