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I got a call from the IRS demanding money. Is this a scam?

Yes. If a caller claims to be from the IRS and demands immediate payment of so-called "back taxes," it's a scam.

The caller may initially seem legitimate, giving you a name, a badge number, and sometimes even the last four digits of your Social Security number. The phone number that shows up on your caller ID will seem to come from the actual IRS or local enforcement, but like the name and the badge number, it will be faked.

When challenged, the caller can become hostile and abusive, threatening you with jail time, deportation, license suspension, and other alarming actions.

The real IRS:

  • Will always first contact you by mail if you really do owe back taxes
  • Never asks for immediate payment over the phone, nor do they insist on a particular form of payment
  • Always treats you professionally and courteously

If you're unsure whether or not you have an unpaid tax debt from a previous year, check with the IRS.

To report a scam, fill out this form at the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration website.

For more details about the reasons the IRS may contact you and how they actually do it, read the IRS's advice on how to tell real from fake.

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