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San Joaquin County
District Attorney's Office
Consumer ALERT

February 26, 2019

Beware of IRS scams this tax season!

You get a call from someone who says they are from the IRS. They say that you owe back taxes. They threaten to sue you, arrest or deport you, or revoke your license if you don’t pay right away. They tell you to wire them money, or to put money on a prepaid debit card and give them the card numbers.

The real IRS will not ask you to pay with prepaid debit cards or wire transfers. They also will not ask for a credit card over the phone. When the IRS first contacts you about unpaid taxes, they do it by mail, not by phone. Caller IDs can be faked. If you receive a call where the person is identifying himself or herself as a representative, officer, or agent of the IRS, hang up.  Do not give a scam artist an opportunity to even begin to engage in a conversation.  If you are able to block the number they are calling from do so right away. 

These scammers are professional con artists who are using fake names and bogus IRS identification badge numbers. They may know your name and your address and phone number. They may even know part of your Social Security number!  Do not verify that any of the information is correct - simply hang up.  If the caller calls back, is harassing or rude, interrupt them and say; “We have a bad connection, call me back on my other line.” Give them the District Attorney’s Office number (209) 468-2400.  

These calls are made to victims for the purpose of stealing their money or obtaining as much personal identification as possible to commit identity theft.  If you would not open your front door, invite a stranger into your home, and share your personally identifying information with them, never do so over the telephone.  You must do your part to protect yourself as these scams are difficult to investigate and prosecute. Most of these fraudulent callers are calling from outside the United States from phone numbers that cannot be traced by local law enforcement agencies.  If you make a “payment” over the phone, or by purchasing gift cards as payment, you are not likely to get any of your money back and you may be risking the entire amount of money in your account.  

We see an increase in these types of scams during tax season. Don’t be a victim, just hang up.  

Remember, the IRS will NEVER:

  • Call to demand immediate payment, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill
  • Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe
  • Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card or gift card
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone
  • Threaten to bring in local police or other law enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.

If you have tax questions, contact the IRS at 800-829-1040.

Learn to protect yourself from tax identity theft and IRS impostor scams and then pass this information on to a friend. You may not have gotten one of these calls, but chances are you know someone who has. Check out our Identity Theft Page for more information on what to do if your information is stolen.