Cybercrime, phone, and in-person scams continue to escalate across the United States. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) warns taxpayers to be careful with unexpected contact from the IRS, state tax agencies, or other tax related entities. The IRS initiates most contact through regular mail or written notice as a first contact. The IRS does not ever initiate contact with taxpayers by email or text message to request personal or financial information.
There are special instances where an IRS revenue officer or revenue agent may visit a home or business unannounced, related to an unpaid tax bill, missing return, or an audit. The IRS urges taxpayers with tax issues to understand the circumstances around which these visits occur to help protect themselves against imposters. When visited by someone from the IRS, taxpayers must always ask to see credentials and identification before engaging. IRS representatives have two forms of official credentials: an IRS-issued pocket commission credential and a HSPD-12 card. Revenue officers are IRS civil enforcement employees whose role involves education, investigation and when necessary, appropriate enforcement steps to collect a tax debt. A revenue officer will help a taxpayer understand their tax obligations as well as the consequences for not meeting the obligations.
The IRS will not ever leave urgent, pre-recorded, or threatening voice messages. The IRS (and its authorized private collection agencies):
- Will not call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer.
- Also, will not ask taxpayers to pay taxes without the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say they owe. Taxpayers should also be advised of their rights as a taxpayer.
- Will not solicit credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
- Will not threaten to call local police, immigration officers or other law-enforcement to have taxpayers arrested for not paying their due taxes. The IRS cannot revoke a driver’s license, business license or immigration status. Scam artists often use these kinds of threats to scam victims into buying into their nefarious schemes.
If a taxpayer receives an email that appears to be from the IRS or a program closely linked to the IRS, report it by sending the email as an attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org. The Report Phishing and Online Scams page at IRS.gov provides complete details.
Both email and text messages often link to a fake website that appears to look like the IRS website or other online tools. If a fraudulent message is received, do not click links, open attachments, or respond.
The IRS is requesting that a screenshot of a text message that appears to be from the IRS be sent with a screenshot of the message, in an email to email@example.com with the following information:
- Date, time, and time zone the text message was received
- The phone number that received the text message
How to know it’s really the IRS calling or knocking on your door on IRS.gov, and the IRS Taxpayer Bill of Rights are two publications the IRS put out.
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