Tax season is here, which means it is now more important than ever to be careful of scam calls, letters, and emails.
The first rule of avoiding scams is not giving personal information to individuals claiming to be the IRS over the phone. This is because the IRS will always send physical letters to address tax problems.
However, some scammers have started to send fake letters claiming to be from the IRS, and these scams can be harder to catch. Fortunately, there are a few ways you can identify if a letter is truly from the IRS:
- Letters from the IRS will always be sent in a government envelope with the IRS seal.
- A real letter will include the following:
- Notice or letter number
- IRS contact information
- Additional information about your rights as a taxpayer
A legitimate letter will also include your payment options, but if a letter tells you to write a check to anywhere except the U.S. Treasury, it is a scam. The IRS will also never ask you to transfer money over the phone or pay in the form of gift cards. Additionally, any letters received from the “Bureau of Tax Enforcement” are scams because this bureau does not exist.
If you are even slightly unsure if a letter you received is from the IRS, contact them for confirmation.
NOTE: Double-check the contact number in the letter if you plan to call the IRS to check the accuracy of the information. If it looks like a personal number or a cell number and you’re not sure about it, don’t call it. Instead, call the IRS directly at 1.800.829.1040.
Below is a brief summary of what the IRS will never do, and what they will always do. Paying attention to these details can help you determine if you are being scammed so you can protect yourself from people who want to steal from you.
The IRS will NOT:
- Email you or message you through any social media platform.
- Call you about a tax debt.
- Threaten to arrest or deport you.
- Request payment via gift card or over the phone.
- Suspend your social security number due to “suspicious activity.”
The IRS WILL:
- Send you one or multiple letters informing you of a problem if there is one.
- Include a notice or letter number, usually located at the top right corner of the letter.
- Use a government envelope with the IRS seal.
- Include supplementary information about your rights as a taxpayer.
With caution and attention, you can avoid tax season scams and identity theft. More information on how you can protect yourself is available from the IRS or the Minnesota Department of Revenue.