Legitimate IRS Communications or IRS scams? How to Protect Yourself
By Michael Murray, North Carolina Tax Controversy Attorney
Now that the filing deadline has passed, the IRS is busy contacting taxpayers who filed reports with errors and audit inquiries. There are also a lot of scammers out there contacting individuals and businesses posing as the IRS. Common IRS scams this tax season may include text-message scams, e-mail schemes, phone scams and unemployment fraud.
Protect yourself by knowing how the IRS communicates. The IRS does not contact anyone via text message or social media. An initial communication will not come in the form of email or a phone call/voicemail either. The IRS initiates contact regarding personal issues such as erroneous tax returns, audits or failure to pay via a letter sent through the U.S. postal service. The IRS logo is affixed in the return address window of the envelope.
If a taxpayer fails to respond, the IRS may follow up with a phone call. The phone call will come from a live Revenue Officer (RO) who is trained to conduct business on behalf of the agency. The (RO) will never threaten or harass a taxpayer. The purpose of the call will be to either provide information or obtain information to remedy a potential tax issue. They will not ask you to wire money, ask for a credit card number or ask for any other form of payment.
If it is determined that you owe additional taxes those can be made by mailing a check to the IRS or using their online system. Do not ever enter personal information or payment information into a link sent via text, social media or email from someone purporting to be the IRS. You can access the IRS website directly and navigate to where you make secure payments.
Although popular on television, it is highly unlikely that an IRS agent will knock on your door. If someone should do so and claim to be from the IRS, ask to see his or her credentials. A legitimate IRS agent has both a pocket commission and a Personal Identity Verification Credential.
Common IRS Scams for 2022:
1. IRS Scams via Text Message
Text hoaxes involve messages with bogus links that claims to be IRS websites or other online tools. These links lead to bad actors who will attempt to obtain your credit card information or other personal information so that they can steal money or your identity.
2. IRS Scams via E-mail
E-mail hoaxes are similar to the text scams — they involve victims getting an unsolicited message in their email inbox appearing to be from the IRS or a program closely linked to the agency. These emails may appear very legitimate and discuss issues such as stimulus payments or child credit checks. Do not click on any of the links. Delete the email immediately.
3. IRS Scams via Phone
Criminals generally leave pre-recorded, urgent messages requesting a call back, and threaten victims with an arrest warrant, deportation or revocation of drivers’ licenses or professional licenses if ignored. Do not call back and if you pick up and hear one of these recordings, hang up.
4. Unemployment Fraud
The pandemic and access to unemployment income has caused many scrupulous bad actors to use stolen personal data to file for unemployment income in someone else’s name. Often the victim does not become aware until tax season when they receive a 1099-G tax form detailing unemployment compensation they never collected. Workers who get an inaccurate 1099-G should report it to the NC Department of Commerce and request a corrected Form 1099-G.
Tips from the IRS to avoid becoming the victim of IRS scams:
- Respond immediately to any IRS notice in the mail. Call the number provided.
- Complete IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit, if an e-filed tax return is rejected because of a duplicate filing under their SSN or if instructed to do so by the IRS. Print and attach the form to a paper return and mail according to instructions.
- Contact the IRS about tax-related identity theft by calling 1-800-908-4490 for specialized assistance.
- Check your credit report for suspicious activity or unauthorized lines of credit. You can request a free credit report every week through AnnualCreditReport.com or call 1- 877-322-8228.
For more information on legitimate communications from the IRS, contact the tax controversy attorneys at Murray Moyer, PLLC. We can help you negotiate with revenue officers if you are facing an audit, owe more than you can pay or need more information on possible errors or discrepancies in your tax return. Contact us to set up a consultation today.