Scammers seek to exploit taxpayers’ lack of knowledge, fear

Did you know that you could really cut the amount of taxes you have to pay or reduce the amount the IRS will fine you simply by cooperating promptly when an agent gets in touch with you? That’s what scammers want you to believe. Playing on people’s fear, hatred, and (yes) ignorance, con artists contact potential victims and pretend to either represent the government or offer a way to get around paying the government.

One common scam is demanding immediate payment of taxes or penalties and either offering a “deal” or threatening “penalties,” such as arrest. Key ways to recognize this is that the “agent” wants a credit or debit card number over the phone or email, or the person demands that you pay with a way that can’t be traced, such as a prepaid debit card. Another con is that they offer to arrange things so that you pay little or no taxes — in exchange for paying the scammer, of course. Maybe they’ll offer fake refunds, tax credits or other incentives, even posing as charities that provide a tax write-off. Perhaps they’ll offer ways for you to “hide” your income, so you don’t have to pay taxes.

These scammers may sound convincing, even being able to recite the last four digits of your Social Security number or other personal information, which they may have picked up through identity theft tactics. They may work to supply additional “evidence” that they are legitimate, such as faking follow-up emails or phone calls supposedly from local police who intend to arrest you.

Don’t let some criminal take advantage of you or someone you love by exploiting your fear, lack of knowledge, or irritation with the tax system. You have the ability to inform yourself by contacting legitimate sources of information, including the Internal Revenue Service itself. Here’s a good place to start:

The video below explains why you shouldn’t even “check out” an email you get that claims to be from the IRS. You can see more videos on the IRS YouTube channel.


This YouTube user has uploaded a purported example of one of these type of calls. This is not the IRS. Listen to how the “agent” belittles and threatens the guy. About minute 15, the guy asks the caller, “Are you going to go to Heaven?” and launches into a morality lesson.

Remember that you have the right to legal representation if you are in a dispute with the IRS, including an attorney provided for you if you cannot afford one. Here are a list of other rights as related to the IRS and taxes.

Create a strong defense against becoming a victim of a scam by knowing your rights and responsibilities and acting according to them.

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