It’s an anxiety all of us have to some degree: the fear of having our identity stolen. And with more and more data breaches happening, the chances of being a victim of ID theft seem to be going up. Scammers are taking advantage of this fear, and they’re succeeding with a new variety of phone scams. 

The IRS recently warned that scammers are impersonating the IRS, calling taxpayers to alert them that their identities have been stolen. Impersonators then ask for information and payment to be made over the phone. 

ID theft does happen, and the IRS does sometimes catch it. But If your return is flagged due to a problem with Social Security numbers or alleged identity theft, the IRS never asks you to pay over the phone or send a return or payment anywhere other than an IRS Service Center.

The real IRS will almost always contact you first by mail. They won’t ask you for personal information using email or social media, and they won’t ask for payment using a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer or ask for a credit card number over the phone. The IRS also does not ask for confidential access information for credit card accounts or bank accounts. And the IRS won’t use threatening language or claim that you’ll be reported to other agencies or local law enforcement.

If you receive a suspicious call from someone purporting to be from IRS, you can report it to TIGTA at 1.800.366.4484. Try to remember as many details about the call so that the authorities can follow up.