14 Oct How To Spot Fake IRS Letters
Every year, scammers pose as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in an attempt to steal personal information and money from oblivious taxpayers. Though IRS scams are not exclusive to tax season, they are, however, more prominent in the months leading up to tax deadlines.
Usually, there are telltale signs that will show you whether IRS contact is fraudulent or legitimate. But the sneakiest IRS scams to detect are IRS email scams.
IRS Mail Frauds
Different IRS scams bait taxpayers almost every season, but, since the Internet has taken over all of our communication, most IRS scams are email-based today. Email is the primary channel by which the IRS contacts taxpayers, and that’s why email scams can catch you off guard.
Advanced photo-editing software enables con artists to draft letters with an IRS logo, layout, and font, and they can look very official. Scammers especially prefer to target non-residents, since they are usually unfamiliar with IRS methodology and can feel pressured to quickly respond to financial threats.
A few main features of such IRS letters can prove they are fake. Here are some valuable tips on how to detect whether or not you’ve received a fake IRS letter in the mail.
Content of the Letter
The content of the IRS letter can be an indicator of whether the letter is real or fake. Taxpayers are officially contacted for a few reasons:
● You have a balance due, or you are due a larger or smaller refund
● The IRS has a question about your tax return
● The IRS needs to verify your identity or needs additional information from you
● The IRS has changed your tax return, or it’s notifying you of delays in processing your return
On the other hand, the IRS NEVER grants gift money. Some taxpayers receive such letters informing them that they are getting a special tax return of $1000, but they need to email their bank account information. This is, of course, a fraud, since the IRS is tasked to collect the money, not give it away. The only time you should receive money from the IRS is when you get your tax return or refunds based on your amended tax return.
Another type of fraudulent letter might inform you that you owe $2000 in taxes to the IRS, with a deadline that you have to immediately pay (only in electronic form) the amount to the address on the letter, or you will be subjected to penalties or imprisonment. This type of fraud capitalizes on taxpayers’ fearful reactions.
You should know that the IRS gives multiple notifications of outstanding debt and never demands just one form of payment. Remember that official IRS letters have very detailed instructions, so if the content of your IRS letter seems rushed or vague, it’s likely fake.
Sometimes you can get an email from someone pretending to be from the IRS, and they may threaten you with financial penalties or imprisonment if you don’t give them your personal information. Know that such communication is strictly forbidden for official IRS representatives. These kinds of frauds are called ‘phishing’.
Official IRS letters have either a letter number (LTR) or a notice number (CP) on the top or bottom right-hand corner of the letter. If there is no letter or notice number on your letter, it’s likely fraudulent. You can always call the IRS and give them the notice/letter number, and the representative will check if it’s legitimate or not.
How to Report a Fake IRS Letter
Don’t shy away from reporting scam emails to the IRS. You can report it to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) or directly to the IRS at their official email.
Lastly, know that the IRS always contacts you first via letters, not phone calls or emails. As long as you know how to recognize such scams, you will never be victimized by cyber attackers. If you are looking for professional advice or guidance, contact Golden Tax Relief today.