Avoiding Tax Scams

Written by Amanda Berding, ATOP
AVP, Trust Operations Officer

With the growing number of tax scams, it is important for you to separate legitimate IRS contacts from a scam. Here are some ways to protect yourself from fraudulent IRS communications: 

1. Text Messages.

The IRS does not send text messages to individuals with links. Scammers will frequently send a text message that includes a bogus link. If you receive an unexpected text from someone identifying themselves from the IRS, you should NOT click on links or open attachments. If you do receive a suspicious text message, you should email a screenshot of it as an attachment to phishing@irs.gov. 

2. E-mail.

IRS does not ask for personal or financial information with initial contact by e-mail. The standard IRS contact will be through several letters by regular mail. The suspicious e-mail should also be forwarded to phishing@irs.gov. There is a “Report Phishing and Online Scams” page that can be found by clicking here

3. Individuals Who Owe Tax.

If you owe tax to the IRS, you can expect to receive several letters. The IRS may follow up the letters with a phone call if you have an overdue tax bill, a delinquent tax return, or have failed to make an unemployment tax deposit. The IRS will never demand immediate payment with a debit, gift, or credit card, threaten you with arrest by the local police, or demand tax payments without giving you an opportunity to appeal the claim. Such strategies all indicate that you are receiving communications from a fraudster and not the IRS

4. In-Person Visits.

Generally, IRS officers visit in person only after you have received several notices by mail. An IRS agent may visit for the purpose of education, investigation, and/or appropriate enforcement steps. IRS auditors may mail an initial appointment letter and will generally call to confirm the date prior to a scheduled audit appointment. If you have an in-person visit with an IRS representative, you should always ask for his or her credentials and HSPD-12 card, which is a standard government form of identification.