IRS phone scam

Be alert!

Dear New Yorkers,

Scammers will always try to get their hands on your money. Remember, never give your personal or financial information to people who contact you…no matter whom they claim to represent. If you’d like more information about avoiding scams and keeping your personal information safe, contact our office. 

New York State Attorney General Signature
Headshot of Attorney General Letitia James. James stands in front of the American flag and the seal of the State of New York flag. She sits between the two flags and smiles at the camera.
An image of a phone getting a call from Brooklyn, NY. The call is titled "IRS SCAM"

An increasingly common scam uses the IRS name (and sometimes their phone number) to steal money and personal information from victims over the phone. Scammers will also use similar tactics via email.

How it works:

A caller impersonating an IRS official claims the victim owes back taxes and threatens arrest, jail time, or driver’s license revocation unless the taxes are paid immediately. Often, the scammer uses caller ID spoofing so that your caller ID box says “Internal Revenue Service,” or displays the agency’s phone number.

Usually the victim is instructed to either wire money or purchase a prepaid debit card and call back with the serial number.

The scammer may also:

  • threaten arrest in order to intimidate the victim
  • target immigrants and threaten deportation
  • have information that includes your name and the last 4 digits of your social security number
  • call repeatedly, leaving “urgent” messages and becoming increasingly threatening and insulting
  • follow up threats with calls claiming to be local law enforcement or the Department of Motor Vehicles

The IRS will never:

  • call to demand immediate payment. The IRS provides notice in writing of owed taxes and penalties, and allows you to protest or appeal the amount owed
  • ask for payment information over the phone
  • threaten immediate arrest or deportation

If a scammer calls you:

  • Do not engage caller: Instead, hang up the phone and do not return calls.
  • Do not provide any personal or financial information.
  • Do not wire money or provide the serial number of a prepaid debit card.
  • Do call the IRS at their published number directly if you think you owe taxes. 
  • Do report the call to the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.

In an alternative scam, a caller may claim you are owed a refund from the IRS and try to trick you into revealing personal identifying and financial information — which they can use to steal your identity.

Office of the New York State Attorney General
File a consumer complaint

Internal Revenue Service

Treasury Inspector General for the Tax Administration