How Does the IRS Contact Taxpayers?

Scammers will pretend to be from the IRS in order to trick you into giving them money or personal information. Knowing how the IRS contacts taxpayers can help you avoid being a victim of impersonation scams.

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Scammers often impersonate the IRS either by phone, email or in person. Here is what you should know about IRS scams to avoid becoming a victim of tax ID fraud or identity theft.

How the IRS makes contact with taxpayers:

  • Mail or visits: The IRS initiates most contact with taxpayers through mail. However, under some circumstances the IRS will call or come to a taxpayer's home or business. This could be to discuss taxes owed or returns due as a part of an audit or investigation. In most cases, taxpayers will first receive a letter in the mail. All IRS representatives making official visits will provide their credentials called a pocket commission and a HSPD-12 card. If you are visited by the IRS, you have the right to ask for these credentials before giving them any information.
  • Phone: Taxpayers may receive calls from IRS-contracted private collection agencies (PCAs). The IRS will first send a letter to the taxpayer to inform them that they have turned their case over to a PCA. Remember, PCAs will identify themselves and ask for a payment to the U.S. Treasury.

Schemes to be aware of:

  • Email: Scammers send emails to try to convince taxpayers into thinking the messages are from the IRS. Scammers often ask taxpayers about refunds, filing status, confirming personal information, ordering transcripts, and verifying personal identification numbers. Remember, the IRS does not use email, text messages, or social media to discuss tax debts or refunds with taxpayers.
  • Phone: Scammers often impersonate IRS employees over the phone aggressively. These criminals might be convincing as they use fake names and fake identification numbers. Remember, scammers impersonating the IRS over the phone are demanding and threatening.

What the IRS does not do:

  • Demand a specific payment method: The IRS never asks for a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card, or wire transfer. They will also not ask for debit or credit card numbers over the phone.
  • Demand immediate payment: The IRS does not demand immediate payment as their initial contact is through a letter in the mail and taxpayers have the right to question what they owe.
  • Threaten you: The IRS does not threaten taxpayers or claim you’ll be arrested or contacted by law enforcement if you do not pay.

If you believe you have been contacted by someone impersonating the IRS, report impersonation scams to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.

The information provided in these articles is intended for informational purposes only. It is not to be construed as the opinion of Central Bancompany, Inc., and/or its subsidiaries and does not imply endorsement or support of any of the mentioned information, products, services, or providers. All information presented is without any representation, guaranty, or warranty regarding the accuracy, relevance, or completeness of the information.