During tax time, be on the lookout for suspicious emails or phone calls claiming to be from the IRS. If you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be the IRS, remember that the IRS won’t:
- Call and demand immediate payment.
- Demand payment without allowing you to question or appeal the amount owed.
- Demand that you must pay in a certain way.
- Ask for financial information, such as your debit card number, over the phone.
- Threaten to contact the police for non-payment.
- Threaten legal action such as a lawsuit.
If you don’t owe or think that you don’t owe, the IRS says you should:
- Contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. You can go to “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” to report the incident.
- Report the incident to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Visit the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on the FTC.gov website to file a report.
Scammers will also use phishing emails to try to steal your information. The IRS has reported that sophisticated phishing scams are on the rise. A phishing email is an unsolicited email that claims to be from a reliable source, in this case the IRS. Scammers may include links to websites that look legitimate. These fake webpages will often try to get you to enter in personal data, such as your bank account number. A scammer’s goal is to steal your identity or money using the information they collect.
If you get an email claiming to be from the IRS that looks suspicious, the IRS recommends that you:
- Don’t reply to the message.
- Never give out your personal or financial information.
- Forward the message to firstname.lastname@example.org, then delete it.
- Don’t open and attachments or click any links.
Here are some specific types of emails to look out for:
- Emails from anything other than IRS.gov (IRS-dot-gov), such as IRSgov.com, USA.gov, or IRS.com.
- An email that demands immediate payment, or that asks for a specific type of payment such as a pre-paid gift card.
- Emails that have errors, misspellings or incorrect information.
- Any email that asks for any sensitive information. Never send your bank account number, credit or debit card number or passwords in an email.
The IRS will normally not contact you via email. The IRS will never ask for personal or financial information in an email.
Stay vigilant and be on the lookout for these scams during tax season. For more information on the IRS and on reporting scams, use the sources list at the bottom of this post.