We got a recorded call with a message claiming to be from the IRS. It said they were giving final notice and preparing to file a lawsuit against us. In our case, the message went to voicemail so the end was cut off, but it seemed like a scam all the way. (We don't have any pending problems with the IRS as far as we know.) The question was whether this is a known scam?
You explained nicely in your own answer how to report and react to this obvious scam. Let me explain why it is an obvious scam by explaining how the IRS works when you owe them something. When you know how the IRS works - these robocalls will just become an amusing (or annoying) nuisance, nothing more.
The IRS never ever initiates contact via phone calls, neither does it notify about updates or intentions via phone calls. The IRS only communicates in writing, unless you call them, and even then - for statutory notices they mail a letter.
Also, the IRS never ever sues you. It has no need. The IRS is an agency of the Federal government that is entitled (and required, by law) to assess your tax liability. Once it assesses your tax liability, unless you sue them in the US Tax Court within 90 days, the assessment is final and is the same as a court order. You can protest that in the US Federal District court, but you'd be appealing, in essence. That is why it is important to sue the IRS, in cases of disagreement, in the US Tax Court before the assessment becomes final: it delays the final assessment until the case is decided, while when appealing in the District court - you already owe the money and the government can proceed with levies and garnishment while the court takes its time.
Once the tax assessment is final, the IRS doesn't call you to warn, it places levies on your assets and garnishes your income. You'll get a letter notifying you about their intention to do that.
This is a scam going around. The recording is soliciting a call back at which point they will try to get you to pay down your "debt" with on a credit card.
If you get such a call, you should report it to the FTC. Include the number that call you if you can. https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#crnt&panel1-1
If you already gave out information based on such a call, you should contact the Treasury Inspector General. https://www.treasury.gov/tigta/contact_report_scam.shtml
There are several pages on the IRS’s website warning people about this and other tax-related scams. The most directly relevant article seems to be “Don’t Fall for New Tax Scam Tricks by IRS Posers” and I’m going to quote a key section, which confirms what other people have said:
The real IRS will not:
- Call you to demand immediate payment. The IRS will not call you if you owe taxes without first sending you a bill in the mail.
- Demand that you pay taxes and not allow you to question or appeal the amount that you owe.
- Require that you pay your taxes a certain way. For instance, require that you pay with a prepaid debit card.
- Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
- Threaten to bring in police or other agencies to arrest you for not paying.
If you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to think that you do:
- Do not provide any information to the caller. Hang up immediately.
- Contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. Use TIGTA’s “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” web page to report the incident.
- You should also report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on FTC.gov. Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.
Emphasis in original.