Constituents should be wary of IRS phone scams

HARRISBURG, June 20 – State Rep. Joseph Petrarca, D-Westmoreland/Armstrong/Indiana, is warning area residents to beware of a telephone scam currently operating in which taxpayers receive unsolicited calls from people claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service and demanding payment.

"My office has received several phone calls from residents who have been a target of these unsolicited phone calls from individuals trying to scam them out of money," Petrarca said. "They were wary about the caller who was aggressively demanding money, and rightly so.

"The IRS never initiates contact with a telephone call. It always sends official correspondence through the mail as its first contact.

"It's important to be wary of any phone call that demands money, or credit card or Social Security numbers," Petrarca said.

Additionally, it is important to know that the IRS:

  • Never asks for credit card, debit card or prepaid card information over the telephone.

  • Never insists that taxpayers use a specific payment method to pay tax obligations.

  • Never requests immediate payment over the telephone and will not take enforcement action immediately following a phone conversation. Taxpayers usually receive prior notification of IRS enforcement action involving IRS tax liens or levies. 

Other characteristics of these scams include:

  • Scammers use fake names and IRS badge numbers. They generally use common names and surnames to identify themselves.

  • Scammers may be able to recite the last four digits of a victim’s Social Security number.

  • Scammers spoof the IRS toll-free number on caller ID to make it appear that it’s the IRS calling.

  • Scammers sometimes send bogus IRS emails to some victims to support their bogus calls.

  • Victims hear background noise of other calls being conducted to mimic a call site.

  • After threatening victims with jail time or driver’s license revocation, scammers hang up and others soon call back pretending to be from the local police or DMV, and the caller ID supports their claim.

If anyone believes they have been targeted by this scam, they should contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration to report the incident at 1-800-366-4484.