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Workers & Retirees

IRS Tax Refund or Payment Fraud Alert

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IRS Tax Payment Demand / Tax Refund Telephone Scam
September 16, 2014

The PBGC Office of Inspector General is alerting you to a continuing fraud scam involving unsolicited telephone contact of taxpayers by persons claiming to be representatives of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) demanding payment of taxes. The caller will either 1) aggressively claim the victim owes federal taxes, or 2) inform the victim the federal government owes them a tax refund. In the former instance, the imposter demands payment to be made immediately via the use of a credit card, debit card or prepaid card. In the latter instance, the imposter requests personal financial information from the victim in order to "process" the tax refund. The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) has identified approximately 1,100 victims who have lost an estimated $5 million from these scams.

The PBGC employees and pension participants are encouraged not to fall victim to this scam and offers these avoidance suggestions:

How does the IRS usually contact individuals about tax matters?
The IRS will not initially contact you by phone, but rather through official correspondence sent through the mail. A big red flag for these scams are angry, threatening calls from people who say they are from the IRS and urging immediate payment. Also, the IRS...

  • Never asks for credit card, debit card or prepaid card information over the telephone.
  • Never insists that taxpayers use a specific payment method to pay tax obligations
  • Never requests immediate payment over the telephone and will not take enforcement action immediately following a phone conversation. Taxpayers usually receive prior notification of IRS enforcement action involving IRS tax liens or levies.
  • Never initiates contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. This includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels.
  • Never asks for PINs, passwords or similar confidential access information for credit card, bank or other financial accounts.

What are some other characteristics of these types of IRS telephone scams?

  • Scammers use fake names and IRS badge numbers. They generally use common names and surnames to identify themselves.
  • Scammers may be able to recite the last four digits of a victim's Social Security number.
  • Scammers spoof the IRS toll-free number on caller ID to make it appear that it's the IRS calling.
  • Scammers sometimes send bogus IRS emails to some victims to support their bogus calls.
  • Victims hear background noise of other calls being conducted to mimic a call site.
  • After threatening victims with jail time or driver's license revocation, scammers hang up and others soon call back pretending to be from the local police or DMV, and the caller ID supports their claim.
  • Insert malicious computer code into seemingly harmless file attachments. Recipients should not open any attachments or click on any links contained in the message. Instead, forward the email to

Don't give out your bank account information to anyone you don't know.
Scammers pressure people to divulge their bank account information so that they can steal the money in the account. Always keep your bank account information confidential. Don't share it unless you are familiar with the caller and know why the information is necessary. Tell the caller you will call the IRS Hotline number to discuss your alleged tax issue, and then your local law enforcement agency as needed.

Phone numbers can deceive.
Some con artists use Internet Technology to disguise their area code in caller ID systems. Although it may look like they're calling from Washington, DC, they could be calling from anywhere in the world.

Take control of the calls you receive.
If you want to reduce the number of telemarketing calls you receive, place your telephone number on the National Do Not Call Registry. To register online, visit To register by phone, call 1-888-382-1222 (TTY: 1-866-290-4236) from the phone number you wish to register.

If you believe you are, or have may have been, a victim of an IRS Tax Payment Demand / Tax Refund Telephone Scam, file a complaint with the IRS (as listed below) and your local law enforcement agency:

  • If you know you owe taxes or you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS at 1.800.829.1040. The IRS employees at that line can help you with a payment issue, if there really is such an issue.
  • If you know you don't owe taxes or have no reason to think that you owe any taxes (for example, you've never received a bill or the caller made some bogus threats as described above), then call and report the incident to TIGTA at 1.800.366.4484.
  • For more information or to report a scam, go to and type "scam" in the search box.
  • If you've been targeted by this scam, you should also contact the Federal Trade Commission and use their "FTC Complaint Assistant" at Please add "IRS Telephone Scam" to the comments of your complaint.

For more information about reporting suspected fraud, waste, or abuse to the Office of Inspector General, Office of Investigations, please contact: Special Agent in Charge Curtis Flood at ext. 3104, Special Agent Charles Jones at ext. 3315, or Special Agent Claressia Jones at ext. 3685. (TTY/TDD Users: 202-326-4115)

We also invite you to visit our website at

Peter P. Paradis, Sr.
Assistant Inspector General for Investigations