Taxpayers CAN protect themselves from IRS Tax Scams – If they know what to do…
Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to avoiding IRS Tax scams. Here’s what taxpayers need to know to determine whether an encounter — in person, over the phone, by text or by email — is an imposter or an actual IRS employee:
The IRS Does Not:
- Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method, such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer.
- Demand taxpayers pay taxes without the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.
- Threaten to bring in local police, immigration officers or other law enforcement to have someone arrested for not paying.
- Threaten to revoke someone’s driver’s license, business licenses or immigration status.
The IRS Does:
- In general, first mail a bill to any taxpayer who owes taxes.
- Normally initiate contact with taxpayers through mail delivered by the United States Postal Service.
- Present official identification when visiting a taxpayer. Taxpayers have the right to see these credentials, and – if they would like – the representative will provide them with a dedicated IRS phone number for verifying the information and confirming their identity.
- Call or visit a home or business under certain circumstances. This includes when a taxpayer has an overdue tax bill, to secure a delinquent tax return or a delinquent employment tax payment, or to tour a business as part of an audit or criminal investigation. Even then, taxpayers will generally receive several letters from the IRS in the mail first.
- Assign certain cases to private debt collectors, but only after written notice is given to the taxpayer and their appointed representative.
- Offer several payment options. Payment by check should ALWAYS be payable to the U.S. Treasury and sent directly to the IRS, instead of a private collection agency.
IRS Tax Scams Use PHISHING Attempts:
Thieves often pose as IRS employees to get victims to turn over their personal information using Phishing techniques. Phishing is typically carried out through unsolicited emails or calls. Just remember that the IRS does not call, text, or email you. They communicate via a letter sent to you in the mail.
- Never click on links in emails or text messages from anyone claiming to be from the IRS.
- Hang up the phone if someone claiming to be from the IRS calls you and don’t believe what you see on your caller ID. The # can be spoofed.
- You can forward suspicious IRS emails to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Forward text messages as-is to the IRS at 202-552-1226. If possible, in a separate text to the IRS, forward the originating number of the sender to the same IRS # 202-552-1226.
- Visit the IRS identity protection page for more info on steps to take to protect your info.
- You can read a prior article I wrote about IRS Phone Scams here.