Callers posing as IRS agents are trying to scam people throughout the Southeast, the IRS warned Monday.

Victims are told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. If the victim refuses to cooperate, they are then threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license. In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting.

“The IRS does not and will not ask for credit card numbers over the phone, nor request a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer,” IRS spokesman Mark Green said in an email. “The first IRS contact with taxpayers on a tax issue is likely to occur via mail.”

The scammers often use fake names and IRS badge numbers, recite the last four numbers of the victim’s Social Security number, make it look they’re calling from the IRS toll-free number and have background noise of other calls to mimic a call site. The fake IRS call is often followed by a fake police or DMV call.

Here’s how the IRS advises handling these fake calls.

If you know you owe taxes or you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS at 800-829-1040. The IRS employees at that number can help you with a payment issue, if there really is such an issue.

If you have no reason to think you owe any taxes (for example, you’ve never received a bill or the caller made some bogus threats as described above), call and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484.

If you’ve been targeted by this scam, you should also contact the Federal Trade Commission and use its “FTC Complaint Assistant” at Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments of your complaint.

IRS scams also are conducted by email. Recipients should not open any attachments or click on any links contained in the message. Instead, forward the e-mail to