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Is that IRS call legitimate - or is it a scam?

With today's technology, it can be difficult to determine if something is real or just a good imitation. This is often the case when you receive a call from someone claiming to be with the IRS - demanding payment for tax debt. 

You may think you would be too smart to fall for a scam, but it is difficult to know how you will react in the heat of the moment. In fact, the IRS reports that since October 2013, almost 8,000 people have lost about $44.5 million to these types of phone scams.

Scammers will use every tactic they can to make the call believable. They create fake caller IDs that make a call seem like it could be from the IRS, and use robocalls that are common among legitimate telemarketers and collection agencies. Currently, the trend has also been to call college student and their parents to demand they pay a "federal student tax," which does not exist. Other calls will demand back taxes be paid, saying it is the final warning before legal action is taken.

In a recent New York Times article, the IRS said that it will never call to demand immediate payment by wire transfer, and never takes credit card information over the phone. In fact, the agency makes initial contact with debtors by mail only. The IRS also won't threaten to arrest or sue you if you do not immediately pay.

If you receive a scam call, report it to the IRS right away - whether you lost money or not. 

If you have any doubt of the legitimacy of contact from the IRS, you can call them directly to confirm. If necessary, you also are entitled to seek advice and counsel from a tax attorney.

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