In a previous post, we talked about common IRS phone scams. We discussed some of the behaviors and scare tactics such scammers employ to try to steal your identity. In this post, we provide context. In order to effectively spot an IRS scammer, it’s useful to understand how a legitimate IRS employee does–and doesn’t–act.
If you receive a concerning phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, you may be unsure how to react. Before you take any action, there are some basic things you should know about how the IRS works:
- If you’re in any actual trouble with the IRS, their first method of contact will never be a phone call. They will generally send a letter first, if possible. It’s also worth noting that the IRS will never communicate about your tax situation by social media, text or email.
- The IRS will never demand payment over the phone. Be on alert if the person on the phone asks for your bank account or credit card information, or if they ask for payment using a specific method–such as a wire transfer or gift card.
- The IRS will never demand that you pay immediately. Giving you 24 hours to submit payment is a red flag.
- Threatening immediate arrest if you fail to pay by the deadline is also out of line with how the IRS operates. Any kind of threat or pressure to take immediate action is likely a scammer.
- In addition, no matter what tax crimes you’re accused of, it’s important to remember that it’s only that–an accusation. As with any other legal conflict, you’re still entitled to due process of law. Before being forced to pay anything, the IRS will always give you a chance to appeal the accusation.
Facing a legal conflict with the IRS can be an intimidating prospect. However, understanding how to discern a true problem from a fake one can help you avoid unnecessary trouble.