Your phone rings. The person who’s calling says that they’re with the IRS and that you owe BIG money. They say that if you don’t pay the amount due that there will be serious consequences. They ask for your financial information… What should you do?
Actually, this is a scam that can happen to anyone. And it’s not the only one. Crooks also want to steal your personal information. So, how do you know if a call or email is genuine? Below you’ll find five helpful tips to avoid putting yourself at risk:
- The IRS will never reach out to anyone via email. If you receive an email, do not reply to the message, open any attachments, or click any links. Forward the email as-is to the IRS at firstname.lastname@example.org. Delete the original email.
- The IRS will rarely contact anyone by phone. Many scammers are contacting taxpayers claiming to be IRS officials. It’s important to know that a call will not be the first form of contact for the IRS. First, the IRS will send you a letter or bill outlining any action you need to take. A call will rarely follow. Scammers often alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS or another agency is calling. If you receive a phone call from the IRS, take down the individual’s name and badge number, then call the IRS back at 1-800-829-1040 to determine if the IRS has a legitimate reason to contact you.
- The IRS will not demand immediate payment. The IRS will not demand “Urgent” payment or apply excessive pressure for any outstanding payments. For example, some scammers threaten to arrest, deport or revoke your license if a payment is not made immediately. If you owe tax, the IRS gives you the right to question or appeal the amount you owe. Phone threats are not how they enforce the tax code.
- The IRS does not require you to pay a certain way. The IRS will not ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone. Normally scammers try to persuade the victim into sending cash, usually through a prepaid debit card or wire transfer.
- The IRS does not ask for detailed personal information. This includes requests for PIN numbers and passwords, or access information for credit cards, banks or other financial accounts.
Overall, it is important that you are aware of the different ways the IRS will contact you if there are any issues with your tax return. If you have any concerns about whether or not a notice you receive from the IRS is legitimate, please contact the IRS immediately. If you receive a notice from a person posing as an IRS agent asking you for more detailed information, it is likely that you are the victim of an IRS scam.