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Tax Season Signals the Rise of IRS Impostors

Tax season isn’t just about filing returns; it’s also prime time for IRS impostor scams. According to the Federal Trade Commission, consumers reported losses of $5.8 million to these scams in 2023 alone.

Take a moment to learn more about this persistent threat.

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How It Works

  • You receive an unexpected call, text or email that claims to be from the IRS.
  • They may say you owe unpaid taxes and threaten arrest if you don’t pay immediately.  
  • They’ll demand payment via wire transfer, prepaid debit cards, cryptocurrency or by purchasing gift cards and sharing the numbers off the back.
  • Or the IRS might have good news: You have a refund coming, which you can claim by clicking a link or calling a specified phone number and providing personal information.  

What You Should Know

  • IRS impostor scams often begin with a robocall, instructing you to press a number on your keypad to talk with a live agent or call back using the number provided.
  • Scammers can manipulate caller IDs to appear as though the call is coming from the IRS.
  • The real IRS initiates communication by mail, including in cases of delinquent taxes. The agency may contact you by phone only after you have received and not responded to multiple written notices.
  • Federal agencies never request payment via wire transfer, cryptocurrency or gift card. In 100 percent of these scenarios, it is a scam.

What You Should Do

  • If you get a call claiming to be from the IRS, hang up – or better yet, don’t pick up the call to begin with.
  • If you want to confirm your tax payment status, call the IRS directly at 800-829-1040.
  • Forward any unsolicited emails or texts in which someone claims to be from the IRS or the Treasury Department to Do not click on any links or open attachments.
  • Know that beyond IRS impostors, tax ID fraud is still a problem. Consider obtaining an IRS identity protection PIN. The IP PIN is known only to you and the IRS, and your return cannot be processed without it.

Support for Fraud Victims: The AARP Fraud Watch Network offers AARP VOA ReST, a free program that provides emotional support for people affected by fraud. Hour-long ReST sessions are confidential small-group meetings that are held online and led by trained peer facilitators. Experiencing a scam can be devastating, but it doesn’t have to define you. Interested? Visit to learn more.

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Have you seen this scam?

  • Call the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline at 877-908-3360 or report it with the AARP Scam Tracking Map.  
  • Get Watchdog Alerts for tips on avoiding such scams.