In regards to common taxpayer scams, we’ve warned you before that the IRS will NEVER call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer, and that the IRS will always mail you a bill if you owe any taxes.
In the past, when a taxpayer received a letter in the mail from the IRS, there was no doubt that it was a legitimate notice. But now, scammers are taking advantage of the trust taxpayers place in printed notices sent via the US postal service by sending fraudulent letters impersonating the IRS in order to get your money.
Although scammers think they are cunning by utilizing trusted methods of communication, they will never be able to perfectly simulate a real IRS correspondence letter. Here’s what you might find in a fake letter and the signs of illegitimacy:
- A claim that taxes are owed to an agency called the “Bureau of Tax Enforcement” and that this gives them the right to threaten an IRS lien or levy. They may even reference the IRS to appear more legitimate.
This is fake because there is no such agency as the “Bureau of Tax Enforcement”.
- A threat to issue a warrant for arrest (or other criminal action, like deportation) if the taxpayer fails to pay immediately.
The IRS will never threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
- Specific information about a taxpayer’s real tax debts.
Some seemingly personal tax-related information is available to the public, so never provide them with even more personal information or give them money.
To weed out fake letters, it’s beneficial to recognize aspects of legitimate IRS correspondence. A real letter would contain:
- An IRS seal on the letter and would arrive in a government envelope.
- Details specific to the letter or notice in the top right-hand corner of the paper:
- A notice or letter number
- A tax ID number
- The tax year(s) involved
- IRS contact information (usually 1-800 number)
- Additional documents informing you about your taxpayer rights.
- Information regarding payment options. They will never ask for payment using a prepaid debit card, gift card, or wire transfer.
This knowledge can save you from identity theft and the potential of losing all of your hard-earned savings. But remember, scammers are always searching for new ways to trick innocent taxpayers. So if you are ever in doubt about the legitimacy of a letter or noticed received in the mail, call the IRS or contact us.