The Internal Revenue Service wants to remind taxpayers that it is important that you are always protecting your personal and financial information. Unfortunately, there are IRS impersonation scams and schemes out there that attempt to trick you into giving up your hard-earned money. These scams are very common during tax season and can also occur after the season is over.
These schemes can come in the form of a text message, email, or phone call, so it is important that you know how to spot one of these threats.
Filing season is always the prime period for identity theft. There is generally an uptick in realistic-looking emails and texts being sent by scammers regarding your tax returns and refunds. It is important to note that the IRS does not contact taxpayers via email or text requesting personal information. A majority of information is requested by using the US Postal Service.
If you receive an unsolicited text message or email that appears to be from either the IRS or a program related to the IRS, you should take a screenshot of the text message or attach the email from the scammer and send this to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more details, go to IRS.gov’s Report Phishing and Online Scams resource page.
Please be aware that these text messages and emails may contact suspicious links claiming to be the IRS’ website, so do not click any links in these messages.
A scam can also come in the form of a phone call. It is important to note that the IRS does not leave pre-recorded or threatening messages. In a majority of phone scams, victims will be told that if they do not call back immediately that there will be a warrant issued for their arrests. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to identify these spam calls as criminals will use “spoof” caller ID numbers to appear as if they are the IRS office or a local sheriff’s office. This will prevent you from knowing their true phone number.
Know that the IRS will never call you to demand payment especially by a specific payment method. They will also never threaten to contact the police or to involve law enforcement. The IRS will not demand that your taxes be paid without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed. Lastly, they will never request your credit or debit card number over the phone. If you owe taxes, the IRS will first mail you a bill. Any tax payments should be made payable to the US Treasury and checks should never be made out to a third party.
If you receive a phone call and believe you do not owe taxes, you should take the following steps:
- Never give out your information and be sure to hang up immediately.
- Contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration to report the phone call IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting.
- You should also report the caller ID or callback number to the IRS by emailing this info to email@example.com.
- You should list the subject of the email as “IRS Phone Scam”.
- The IRS also requests that you report this to the Federal Trade Commission at FTC.gov and add “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.
If you owe taxes or believe you do, you should do the following:
- You can view your tax information online at IRS.gov to confirm the actual amount that will be owed. You can also review your payment options there as well.
- You should only call the number on the billing notice you received or contact the IRS directly at 800-829-1040.
Overall, make sure you do your research before giving out your personal and financial information to a stranger. If you would like more details on identity theft and how to handle these scenarios, go to IRS.gov/identitytheft.