Taxpayers Beware: The Scammers Are Out!

In 1789, Benjamin Franklin wrote in a letter, “Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

Mr Franklin was very perceptive to recognize these certainties. However, if he were alive today he might want to add “scammers” to his list.

According to the IRS, there has been a surge in impersonators looking to steal taxpayers’ money or even identity in recent years. Scammers make unsolicited calls claiming to be IRS officials. They demand that the victim pay a bogus tax bill. They con the victim into sending cash, usually through a prepaid debit card or wire transfer.

Learn to protect yourself by identifying scammer tactics:

  • They may alter their phone number so it appears on your caller ID like the IRS or another agency is calling.


  • 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.


  • 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 do get a call from someone using any of the above tactics, do not give out any information and hang up immediately.

You should then report the call to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 800-366-4484 or at, as well as the Federal Trade Commission’s  FTC Complaint Assistant.


Additional Resources:

Learn about cyber dangers and online security – “Have You Changed Your Password Lately? – Blog by Robb Mayberry



Robb Mayberry

Robb Mayberry is a Public Information Officer for the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. He has assisted in the response and recovery efforts with some of California’s worst disasters, including the San Refugio Oil Spill, the Valley and Butte Wildfires, Aliso Canyon Gas Leak, Erskine Fire, and the Winters Storms of 2017. Prior to public service, he spent 25 years managing the public and media relations for some of Northern California’s largest healthcare organizations.

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