With continuing phone and in-person scams taking place across the country, the IRS wants to help taxpayers understand how and why agency representatives may contact taxpayers.
In most instances, the IRS sends a letter or written notice to a taxpayer in advance, but not always. Depending on the situation, IRS employees may first call or visit with a taxpayer.
Here’s how taxpayers can know if a person calling or visiting their home or place of business is a legitimate IRS employee or an imposter. There are special instances where an IRS revenue officer or revenue agent may visit a home or business related to an unpaid tax bill or an audit; the IRS urges people with tax issues to understand the circumstances around these visits and also help protect themselves against imposters.
Text messages: Frequently a scam
The IRS does not send text messages including shortened links, asking the taxpayer to verify some bit of personal information. These fraudulent messages often contain bogus links claiming to be IRS websites or other online tools. Other than IRS Secure Access, the IRS does not use text messages to discuss personal tax issues, such as those involving bills or refunds.
Email: Many tax scams involve email
The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. The IRS initiates most contacts through regular mail. If a taxpayer receives an unsolicited fraudulent email that appears to be from either the IRS or a program closely linked to the IRS, report it by sending the email as an attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org. The Report Phishing and Online Scams page at IRS.gov provides complete details.
Mail and phone contacts are the first steps with a tax issue
Taxpayers will generally first receive several letters from the IRS in the mail before receiving a phone call. However, there are circumstances when the IRS will call, including when a taxpayer has an overdue tax bill, a delinquent or unfiled tax return, or has not made an employment tax deposit.
All tax payments should only be made payable to the U.S. Treasury and checks should never be made payable to third parties. For anyone who doesn’t owe taxes and has no reason to think they do: Do not give out any information. Hang up immediately. For more information, see IRS warning: Scammers work year-round; stay vigilant.