IRS Impersonator: Phone Scam Overview

For the past several years IRS impersonators have stolen millions of dollars from U.S. citizens. Set up in boiler room call centers, typically outside of the U.S., these callers convince their victims that they have fallen behind on taxes and are now facing fines, frozen assets, and potential jail time.

In the fall of 2016, acting on a tip 70 call center workers in Mumbai, India were arrested on suspicion of tax-related fraud. This was a small victory in the on-going fight against phone scams, and the IRS phone scam remains a serious threat. 

How the Scam Works

Call centers will robodial millions of numbers using software that allows them to spoof their phone number. The automated calls will leave voicemails that threaten legal action due to overdue taxes, the message will instruct the individual to call back immediately in order to avoid the consequences.

In some cases a victim may receive a call directly from a phony IRS representative, but in the vast majority of these calls they begin with a voicemail. Many people who may owe taxes or are unsure if they owe taxes will call back the number and the impersonator will use scare tactics and demand payment.

The scammers will usually provide a number of details, like an IRS case number or their badge number to make the call seem authentic. They will always demand payment, usually by wire transfer, credit card, or in prepaid credit and gift cards. It's important to keep your calm, realize that this is a scam, and avoid sending any money or sharing any sort of personal information.

Know Your Rights

If you owe taxes the IRS first must contact you by U.S. mail and you always have the right to dispute what you owe. Never fall victim to the harassment of a caller, block the number and report it.

If you're unsure about a calls legitimacy run a reverse phone lookup and check for suspicious behavior. Our online phone book has an abundance of user feedback on phone numbers that have been used in IRS impersonator scams:

202-506-9864:Crazy voicemail- Reverse lookup showed YMAX Oration. Claimed to be IRS and demanding money. I don't owe anything. Claimed if I didn't call back he'd start legal proceedings. I filed complaint with FTC and other website mentioned by IRS.

If you feel that you may actually owe overdue taxes, contact the IRS directly at1-800-829-1040 to confirm.

How to Report IRS Impersonators

All IRS impersonators should be reported to TIGTA and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). You can also help warn others in your community about IRS impersonators by leaving your feedback in our online phone book or in our phone number tracing app for iPhone.