Criminals constantly develop new tax-related scams to steal taxpayers’ money and/or identities. Taxpayers can protect themselves by learning some of the tricks these scammers employ. Here are three of the most common ways that scammers try to impersonate the IRS.
– BY MAIL. Scammers may send a letter on what appears to be official IRS letterhead paper, typically delivered in a cardboard envelope. The letter includes bogus contact information that connects the taxpayer to the scammers instead of the IRS. Many of these letters include the phrase, “in relation to your unclaimed refund.” Official IRS communications do not use this language.
– BY EMAIL OR TEXT MESSAGE. Many scammers send email or text messages where they claim to work for the IRS, offering to help a taxpayer claim a refund or fix a tax problem. These messages often include links to bogus websites that exist only to steal a taxpayer’s personal information, and/or trick them into paying a fraudulent fee.
– IN PERSON. Some scam artists come right to a taxpayer’s door, claiming to be IRS agents and sometimes displaying fake ID badges. The IRS recently announced that it is ending nearly all unannounced in-person visits to taxpayers. In most cases, the taxpayer will instead receive a letter inviting them to set up an in-person appointment. Therefore, so-called IRS agents who arrive without warning are likely to be scammers.
In any situation where there are signs of a possible scam, do not reply to the message, click on any links or allow suspected impostors into your home. Instead, call an official IRS number like 1-800-829-1040 to inquire about the matter.