Government Impostor Scams

Scammers sometimes pretend to be government officials to get you to send them money. They might promise lottery winnings if you pay “taxes” or other fees, or they might threaten you with arrest or a lawsuit if you don’t pay a supposed debt. Regardless of their tactics, their goal is the same: to get you to send them money.

Government Impostor Scams
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During tax season, scammers pretend to be from the IRS or other Government Agencies to scare customers into sending them money. They trick people into believing they owe taxes to the IRS. The scammers threaten those who refuse to pay with arrest, deportation, or loss of a business or driver’s license. They ask the victims to go to Walmart to send a money transfer or to put the money on a prepaid card or gift card.

In reality, the IRS usually first contacts people by mail – not by phone – about unpaid taxes. The IRS or any other government agency, such as prisons or jails, won’t ask for payment using a pre-paid debit card, gift cards, or money transfers. The agency also won’t ask for a credit card number over the phone.

Common Tactics Used by Callers Committing Fraud

  • They use common names and fake IRS badge numbers
  • They know the last four digits of the victim’s Social Security Number
  • They make caller ID appear as if the IRS is calling
  • They send bogus IRS emails to support their scam
  • They call a second time claiming to be the police or DMV, and caller ID again supports their claim

What You Need to Know

  1. If you owe federal taxes, or think you might owe taxes, hang up and call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS workers can help you with your payment questions
  2. If you don’t owe taxes, call and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484
  3. You can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at FTC.gov. Add "IRS Telephone Scam" to the comments in your complaint

How to Protect Yourself

Be alert for phone and email scams that use the IRS name or other Government Agencies

The IRS will never request personal or financial information by email, texting or any social media. You should forward scam emails to phishing@irs.gov. Don’t open any attachments or click on any links in those emails

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Government Impostor Scams