IRS impersonation scams prey on taxpayers

The FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection is advising consumers about a tax scam that has resulted in an “explosion of complaints about callers who claim to be IRS agents – but are not.” These IRS impersonation scams count on people’s lack of knowledge about how the IRS contacts taxpayers. The IRS never calls a taxpayer about unpaid taxes or penalties; the initial contact is made by a mailed letter. If you get a call purporting to be from the IRS telling you to send money for unpaid taxes, hang up and report the scam to the FTC and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at

Unless your contact from the IRS comes in the mail or in person it is fraudulent. In all the years I have been a CPA I have never encountered a situation where a client did not receive a written notice or letter from the IRS as a form of first contact. Only after that letter was received, and somebody called the IRS and established contact, did the IRS use the telephone as a means of contact. The IRS will also NEVER use email to contact a taxpayer.

The IRS will only show up in person if somebody hid or discarded the multiple notices; they will try real hard to alert you via the mail before any escalation.

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