James D. Lynch
Protect Yourself from Scammers by Knowing How the IRS Communicates
If the IRS does call a taxpayer, it should not be a surprise because the agency will generally send a notice or letter first. Understanding how the IRS communicates can help taxpayers protect themselves from scammers who pretend to be from the IRS with the goal of stealing personal information.
Here are some facts about how the IRS communicates with taxpayers:
● The IRS doesn't normally initiate contact with taxpayers by email. Do not reply to an email from someone who claims to be from the IRS because the IRS email address could be spoofed or fake. Emails from IRS employees will end in irs.gov. ● The agency does not send text messages or contact people through social media. Fraudsters will impersonate legitimate government agents and agencies on social media and try to initiate contact with taxpayers. ● When the IRS needs to contact a taxpayer, the first contact is normally by letter delivered by the U.S. Postal Service. Debt relief firms send unsolicited tax debt relief offers through the mail. Fraudsters will often claim they already notified the taxpayer by U.S. mail. ● Just because someone references an IRS notice in email, phone call, text, or social media, does not mean the request is legitimate. ● 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. Private debt collection should not be confused with debt relief firms who will call or email taxpayers with debt relief offers. Taxpayers should contact the IRS directly regarding filing back taxes properly. ● Taxpayers should remember that payment will never be requested to a source other than the U.S. Treasury. ● When visited by someone from the IRS, the taxpayers should always ask for credentials. IRS representatives can always provide two forms of official credentials: a pocket commission and a Personal Identity Verification Credential.