Don’t Be Fooled! How to Avoid IRS Scams

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Avoid IRS Scams By Understanding How They Would Actually Contact a Taxpayer

With continuing phone and in-person scams taking place across the country, we want to share information about how the IRS would contact you, so you know it’s really them. Review these scenarios to avoid IRS scams. In most instances, the IRS sends a letter or written notice to a taxpayer in advance. In cases of unpaid tax bills or an audit, an IRS employees may first call or visit with a taxpayer.

How Would they Contact You and What is Likely IRS Scams?

Here’s how taxpayers can know if a person calling or visiting their home or place of business is a legitimate IRS employee or an imposter:

  • Text messages: Frequently a scam  The IRS does not send text messages including shortened links, asking the taxpayer to verify some bit of personal information. If a taxpayer receives an unsolicited SMS/text that appears to be from either the IRS or a program closely linked to the IRS, the taxpayer should take a screenshot of the text message and include the screenshot in an email to phishing@irs.gov.  The IRS reminds everyone NOT to click links or open attachments in unsolicited, suspicious or unexpected text messages. 
  • Email: Many tax scams involve email The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information.
  • Mail and phone contacts are first steps with a tax issue  Taxpayers will generally first receive several letters from the IRS in the mail before receiving a phone call. However, there are circumstances when the IRS will call, including when a taxpayer has an overdue tax bill, a delinquent or unfiled tax return or has not made an employment tax deposit. The IRS does not leave pre-recorded, urgent or threatening voice messages. Additionally, the will never:
    • Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card or gift card. The IRS does not use these methods for tax payments.
    • Threaten to immediately bring in local police to have the taxpayer arrested for not paying.
    • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

IRS In-person visits: What to Know

IRS revenue officers may make unannounced visits to a taxpayer’s home or place of business to discuss taxes owed or tax returns due or if they are involved in an audit. A crucial point is that taxpayers would have first been notified by mail of their balance due or missing return.

When visited by someone from the IRS, the taxpayer should always ask for credentials or identification. IRS representatives can always provide two forms of official credentials: IRS-issued credentials (also called a pocket commission) and a HSPD-12 card. The HSPD-12 card is a governmentwide standard form of identification for federal employees.

For more information, visit How to Know if it’s Really the IRS Calling or Knocking on Your Door on IRS.gov