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How to Spot Common IRS Scams

Sarah Edwards | October 19, 2022

When the IRS calls you and asks for your SSN ^^

Summary: It's more important than ever to be able to detect scams and frausters when it comes to your finances. Here is SoloSuit's guide to IRS scams and how you can protect yourself.

Criminals will say anything to get your money. They might pretend to be from the IRS or another government agency, calling or emailing you about owed taxes.

They might threaten you with arrest or loss of your driver's license if you don't pay them immediately.

Consequently, millions of dollars are lost every year to these scams, and many people are victims. Here are some of the most prevalent IRS scams and tips on how to spot them.

“You'll be arrested if you don't call us back”

One of the most common scams is a caller pretending to be from the IRS calling about owed taxes. They might threaten you with arrest or the loss of your driver's license if you don't pay them immediately.

They might also say that you'll be sued or have your wages withheld. The caller may sound convincing and may even have some of your personal information, like your address or Social Security number.

They may demand that you pay with a prepaid debit card or wire transfer. The IRS will never threaten you with deportation or arrest if you don't pay your taxes.

“We need your Social Security number to process your refund”

Another scam involves criminals emailing or calling people, pretending to be from the IRS or another government agency.

They might say that you're owed a refund and ask for your Social Security number or bank account information so they can directly deposit the money.

They might even send you a fake IRS document that looks real. It's worth noting that the IRS will never email or call to ask for your personal information.

“You need to pay this tax bill immediately”

Some scammers will send a letter or email that looks like it's from the IRS. It might say that you owe taxes and demand that you pay immediately. The letter might threaten to take legal action if you don't pay.

This is usually a scam, especially if you've never received a bill from the IRS. The IRS will always send bills first before taking any legal action.

“Your identity was stolen, so buy gift cards to fix it”

If the figures are anything to go by, identity theft is a huge issue in America. 47% of Americans fell prey to financial identity theft in 2020. Even with these disturbing statistics, scammers will try to take advantage of unsuspecting victims.

They'll say that your identity has been stolen and that you need to buy gift cards to fix the problem.

They could even ask you to send them money through a wire transfer. This is a scam. Make a point of verifying the identity of the person you're speaking to in these situations.

“Click here to see your transcript”

Some tech-savvy scammers will send emails that look like they're from the IRS. They might say that you need to click on a link to view your tax transcript.

The link might take you to a website that looks like the IRS website, but it's simply a way for the scammer to steal your information. The IRS will never send you an email with a link to your tax transcript. Instead, they will mail it to you if you request it.

How to identify IRS impersonators

In rare cases, the IRS will visit or call a home or business. The agency may do this if you have an overdue tax bill or have had tax problems in the past. They might also do this to verify your identity if you're a victim of identity theft.

But in most cases, the IRS will first communicate with you by mail. If someone calls or visits, here are some red flags that it might be a scam:

  • Demanding payment by a specific method: They demand that you pay your taxes by a specific method, like wire transfer or prepaid debit card. The IRS gives the option to pay by check or direct deposit.
  • Refusing to give you a receipt: They refuse to give you a receipt for your payment. The IRS will always send you a receipt if you make a payment.
  • Texting you: They send you unsolicited text messages. The IRS doesn't initiate contact with you by text message.
  • Asking for credit or debit card numbers over the phone: The IRS will never ask for your debit or credit card number over the phone.
  • Failing to present a HSPD-12 card: If a person visits your home or business and says they are from the IRS, ask to see their HSPD-12 card. This is a government-issued photo ID card. You have the right to verify and see the information on this card. If they don't have one, it's likely a scam.
  • Leaving a prerecorded message: The IRS doesn't leave prerecorded messages asking you to call back. If you get a prerecorded message, it might be from a scammer who found your number online or elsewhere. Don't give any personal information if you get a call or email from someone identifying themselves as an IRS agent.

How to spot common IRS scams

Inform the treasury inspector general for tax administration (TIGTA) if you get a call or email from someone asserting that they are an IRS agent.

If you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS. They can help you figure out if you owe taxes and your payment options.

Never give out your personal information—like your Social Security number or bank account information—to someone you don't know. Also, never send cash or gift cards as payment. The IRS will never ask you to do this.

Don't click on any links in unsolicited emails or texts. These might be phishing scams that are designed to steal your information.

SoloSuit can help

IRS scams are spiraling out of control, but this doesn't mean you have to be a victim. If you actually owe a debt, SoloSuit can help you respond to a debt collector's notice or a debt collection lawsuit.

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SoloSuit's Answer service is a step-by-step web-app that asks you all the necessary questions to complete your Answer. Upon completion, we'll have an attorney review your document and we'll file it for you.

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