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  • Writer's pictureJames D. Lynch

Tips to Help Taxpayers Spot and Avoid Tax Scams

Tax season is also busy season for savvy criminals. Here are some tips to help people recognize and avoid tax-related scams.

Email phishing scams: The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. Generally, the IRS first mails a paper bill to a person who owes taxes. In some special situations, the IRS will call or come to a home or business. Taxpayers should not open any attachments, click on any links, reply to the sender, or take any other actions that could put them at risk. Taxpayers should report the phishing scam to the IRS at

Phone scams: The IRS generally first mails a bill to a taxpayer who owes taxes. There are specific ways to pay taxes. The IRS and its authorized private collection agencies:

● Will NOT leave pre-recorded, urgent, or threatening messages on an answering system. ● Will NOT threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law enforcement groups to arrest the taxpayer for not paying, deport them, or revoke their licenses. ● Will NOT call to demand immediate payment with a prepaid debit card, gift card, or wire transfer. ● Will NOT ask for checks to third parties. ● Will NOT demand payment without giving the taxpayer an opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.

Criminals can fake or spoof caller ID numbers to appear to be anywhere in the country. Scammers can even spoof an IRS office phone number or the numbers of various local, state, federal or tribal government agencies.

If a taxpayer receives a scam phone call, they should not give out any information and hang up immediately. Report the caller ID and callback number to the IRS by sending it to with "IRS Phone Scam" in the subject line. The taxpayer should report the call to the Federal Trade Commission as well.


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