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COMMON IRS SCAMS

Updated: Oct 4

With the 2021 extended tax filing deadline quickly approaching, it’s important to be aware of how the IRS may contact you so that you are prepared. Fraudsters will pretend to be the IRS to attempt to scam you out of money with threats that may seem real.

Scam Alert

How the IRS contacts taxpayers

  • First contact will normally be via mail delivered by the U.S. Postal Service; however, fraudsters will send fake documents through the mail, and in some cases will claim they already notified a taxpayer by U.S. mail.

  • In some cases, an IRS employee may first call or visit with a taxpayer. In these situations, the IRS sends a letter or written notice to a taxpayer in advance, but not always.

  • IRS revenue agents or tax compliance officers may call a taxpayer or tax professional after mailing a notice to confirm an appointment or to discuss items for a scheduled audit.

  • Private debt collectors can call taxpayers for the collection of certain outstanding inactive tax liabilities, but only after the taxpayer and their representative have. received written notice.

  • IRS revenue officers and agents routinely make unannounced visits to a taxpayer’s home or place of business to discuss taxes owed, delinquent tax returns or a business falling behind on payroll tax deposits. IRS revenue officers may request payment of taxes owed by the taxpayer. But please note, payment will never be requested to a source other than the U.S. Treasury.

  • When you are visited by someone from the IRS, you should always ask for their credentials. An IRS representative can always provide two forms of identifications: a pocket commissions and a Personal Identity Verification Credential.


How the IRS does not contact taxpayers

  • The IRS does not initiate contact by email, text message or social media.



Types of IRS Scams


Text Message Scams These may be bogus text messages claiming to come from the IRS that concern topics such as economic impact payments or other COVID-19 tax relief. These texts will provide links that direct victims to sites where they are asked to enter their information.

The IRS does not contact taxpayers by text message or via social media platforms to discuss personal tax issues such as tax bills or refunds. They will send a text message as a second factor to authenticate a users’ identity when they access online self-help tools, but only after the user has entered valid login information on the IRS’s website.

If you receive one of these fraudulent texts do not click on the links provided. Instead, you should take a screenshot and send it in an email to Phishing@irs.gov with the date and time (including time zone) received and the phone number on which it was received for the IRS to investigate.

Email Scams The IRS’s most common initiation of contact with taxpayers is by postal mail and not email. If you receive a fraudulent email, it is not unusual for it to appear very convincing. If you feel that you have received a “phishing”, or fraudulent email that claims to be from the IRS or a related program, you should forward it Phishing@irs.gov without opening any links that may be provided.


Phone Scams The IRS has advised that criminals can “spoof” a caller ID to make the phone call appear to come from the IRS. Such callers may also pretend to be an IRS agent and threaten arrest, deportation, or license revocation if the taxpayer does not make immediate payment. If you receive such a call the IRS recommends that you immediately hang up. The IRS initiates collection actions via postal mail and any legitimate tax payments are payable only to the U.S. Treasury.

Although you should be on the lookout for these types of scams year-round, tax season is a key time for fraudulent activity to increase. Don’t fall victim to these scams!


Click here to read more about how the IRS contacts taxpayers. You may also want to read about their tax scams consumer alerts. This post may not contain a complete analysis of the tax issues discussed herein and does not represent official conclusions or advice regarding the matter.



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