The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is the largest tax collection agency in the United States. Unfortunately, scammers often use this well-known agency as a guise for fraudulent activity. IRS scams can come in many forms, from fake phone calls to phishing emails. It is important to be aware of these scams and know how to protect yourself from them.
Types of IRS Scams
- Fake Phone Calls: One of the most common IRS scams is a fake phone call. Scammers often pose as IRS agents and threaten victims with arrest, deportation, or other legal action if they do not pay a supposed tax debt immediately. These calls can be convincing, with scammers using official-sounding language and even spoofing the IRS’s telephone number.
- Phishing Emails: Another common IRS scam is a phishing email. These emails look like they are from the IRS and ask for personal and financial information. Scammers use this information to steal your identity or access your bank account.
- Smishing: Smishing is a type of IRS scam that comes in the form of a text message. Like phishing emails, smishing scams ask for personal and financial information.
- In-Person Scams: Some IRS scams take place in person. Scammers may approach you in public, claiming to be IRS agents and demanding payment for a supposed tax debt. They may also ask for personal and financial information to steal your identity.
- Unsolicited Correspondence: Scammers may also send official-looking letters claiming to be from the IRS. These letters often demand payment for a supposed tax debt and threaten legal action if the debt is not paid.
How to Protect Yourself from IRS Scams
- Know the IRS’s Policies: The IRS will never threaten you with arrest or deportation over the phone. They will also never demand immediate payment over the phone, nor will they ask for personal or financial information through email, text message, or unsolicited correspondence.
- Do Not Provide Personal Information: If you receive a call, email, or letter claiming to be from the IRS, do not provide personal or financial information. Instead, hang up, delete the email, or throw away the letter.
- Verify the Caller’s Identity: If you receive a call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, ask for their name, employee ID number, and call back number. Then, hang up and call the IRS at (800) 829-1040 to verify their identity.
- Report Suspicious Activity: If you receive a call, email, or letter that you believe to be a scam, report it to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at (800) 366-4484 or by visiting their website at www.tigta.gov.
- Be Wary of Unsolicited Correspondence: If you receive an unsolicited letter or notice from the IRS, be wary. The IRS will typically only contact you by mail if they have tried to contact you by phone and have been unable to reach you.
IRS scams are a common form of fraud that can result in financial loss and identity theft. By being aware of these scams and knowing how to protect yourself, you can reduce your risk of becoming a victim. If you receive a call, email, or letter claiming to be from the IRS, do not provide personal or financial information. Instead, hang up, delete the email, or throw away the letter, and report the suspicious activity to TIGTA.