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Telephone tax scams have been around for ages, but they really took off in 2014. Phone scams include many variations, but all try to steal taxpayers' money or identity.
Some scammers tell folks who take the calls that they are entitled to huge refunds; all they need to do is provide some personal information. Other con artists use fear, threatening taxpayers with revocation of their driver's license or even arrest if their tax situations aren't cleared up quickly.
The IRS continues to investigate a sophisticated phone scam aimed at recent immigrants, who are told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly through a preloaded debit card or wire transfer. Failure to follow through, say the con artists, could lead to arrest or deportation.
The telephone scam made headlines in March 2014 when the IRS called many versions of fake calls the largest tax scam ever. Things got worse. Five months later, the IRS reported it was growing. The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration has received reports of roughly 290,000 contacts since October 2013 and has become aware of nearly 3,000 victims who have collectively paid over $14 million as a result of the scam.
If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and know you do owe taxes, call the IRS at (800) 829-1040 toll-free for help in resolving your payment issue. If you know you don't owe taxes, call the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at (800) 366-4484 toll-free to report the scam.