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How To Spot an IRS Imposter

First, remember that nearly all legitimate IRS communication comes as physical mail sent through the U.S. Postal Service.

  • They contact you over email, text, or social media message. The IRS does not communicate with taxpayers using unsolicited emails, text messages, or over social media.
  • You get a recorded phone message. There are some instances in which the IRS will call a taxpayer - typically after sending multiple letters in the mail. But it will always be a human on the other end of the line. Any prerecorded or automated message is a scam.
  • They tell you to pay through unofficial channels. The IRS offers several payment methods, including paying at If a caller says you cannot pay at, you know it’s an impersonation.
  • You’re asked to pay with gift cards, wire transfer, or cryptocurrency. None of these are valid payment methods for your taxes. If someone asks for payment in iTunes gift cards, Bitcoin, or Western Union transfers, you know it’s a scam.
  • They tell you to make the check out to the "IRS". The IRS requests all checks be made out to “U.S. Treasury.” That’s because scammers can change “IRS” to “MRS” and add the last name of their choosing.
  • They want you to share details about your credit card or bank. The IRS will never request login information for your online or financial accounts. If anyone calls asking for credit or debit card details, account login information, or bank account numbers, they’re not from the IRS.
  • They threaten you with arrest or deportation. The IRS does not make threats. Anyone who claims you’ll be arrested or deported is a fraudster.
  • You’re told your ID will be revoked. The IRS has no control over your identification. Threats to revoke, freeze, or cancel identification like your Social Security number, driver's license number, business license, or visa is a guarantee of fraud.

What you should do

If you think you might be a victim, you should follow the steps in the fraud victim's checklist and report the fraud. Forward scam emails to Forward scam text messages to 202-552-1226, then send a text sharing the number that contacted you. If you’re the victim of identity theft, you should also file a report with the FTC at and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).

Then, take steps to protect your identity. A fraudulent tax return means the thief has your personal information, including your Social Security number. Set up a fraud alert or credit freeze at the three credit bureaus. Protect your accounts using strong, unique passwords and two-factor authentication.

We hope this helps you be prepared to manage any fraudulent activity regarding the IRS. 


Sources and enhanced by Credit Union of Denver

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