Learn to Recognize IRS Contacts Vs. Scammers

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Scammers often impersonate the IRS to steal taxpayers’ personal information. They may contact us through fraudulent phone calls, emails, text messages or social media messages. It’s important for taxpayers to understand how the IRS contacts people, so they don’t fall victim to identity theft.

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Generally, the IRS will first send a notice or letter to a taxpayer.

  • Taxpayers can research IRS notices by visiting Understanding your notice or letter from the IRS. However, not all IRS notices are available on the site.
  • Be aware that fraudsters sometimes claim that they have already notified the taxpayer by mail or refer to an IRS notice to give the impression that their scam is legitimate.
  • Taxpayers can check their secure online account or contact the IRS to confirm the legitimacy of a notice.
  • Debt relief companies often send unsolicited tax debt relief offers through the mail.

The IRS can send taxpayers a notice of filing overdue tax returns. They should send their overdue return to the address given in the notice. Taxpayers can use the previous year’s forms, instructions and publications on IRS.gov to file overdue returns or work with a tax professional.

After sending a notice or letter, the IRS can call a taxpayer.

  • IRS revenue officers or tax compliance officers may call a taxpayer or tax professional after sending a notice to confirm an appointment or to discuss items of a scheduled audit. The IRS encourages taxpayers to review, How to Know It’s Really the IRS Calling or Knocking at Your Door: Collection.
  • The IRS does not leave pre-recorded, urgent or threatening messages. In many phone scams, victims are told that if they don’t call back, a warrant will be issued for their arrest.
  • Private collection agents, under contract with the IRS, may call taxpayers to collect certain outstanding inactive tax debts, but only after the taxpayer and his representative have received written notice.
  • Private debt collection should not be confused with debt relief companies that call, send lien notices, or email taxpayers with debt relief offers.

The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers via email to request personal or financial information.

  • Taxpayers should not respond to a phishing email from someone claiming to be from the IRS, as the email address could be spoofed or fake. Emails from IRS employees will end with IRS.gov.

The IRS does not text or contact people through social media.

  • Other than IRS Secure Access, the IRS does not use text messages to discuss personal tax matters, such as those involving bills or refunds. The IRS will also not message taxpayers via social media platforms.
  • Scammers can text a taxpayer with a fake message about COVID-19 or “stimulus payments.” These messages often contain fake links pretending to be IRS websites or other online tools.
  • Fraudsters will also pose as legitimate government agents and agencies on social media and attempt to make contact with taxpayers.

IRS agents and revenue officers may conduct in-person visits.

  • IRS agents and tax agents routinely make unannounced visits to a taxpayer’s home or establishment to discuss taxes owed, overdue tax returns, or a business behind on tax filings social.
  • IRS tax officials will request payment of taxes owed by the taxpayer. However, taxpayers should remember that payment will never be sought from any source other than the US Treasury.
  • When visited by someone from the IRS, taxpayers should always ask for credentials. IRS representatives can always provide two forms of official credentials: a pocket commission and a Identity Verification Personal ID.

More information:

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