Scammers are working a lot of overtime these days. We’ve seen them attempting to mimic the IRS, Social Security, and Medicare through social media messages, text messages, and even letters in the mail.
Until last year, we would tell our clients, “The IRS only sends letters.” However, now these criminals are sending scam letters along with their texts and high-pressure phone calls.
Read carefully to learn how to make sure you never fall for one of these schemes.
- Never engage over the phone with anyone who claims to be from the IRS unless you called the IRS first. Hang up the phone immediately, no matter how many times they call you back. The IRS does not make calls to ask for money or personal information.
- Never engage over social media with anyone who claims to be from the IRS. Mark the message as spam, report the sender, then hit “delete.” The IRS does not have social media officers.
- Never respond to a text message from a source claiming to be the IRS, even if they have some information about you. The IRS does not use “chat bots,” nor do they send out text messages.
- Never respond to a letter from the IRS until you’ve had it checked by a professional to verify that it is accurate and not a fake. You can also go on the IRS website to view your account, make a payment, or view your balance.
That said, your first contact from the IRS will always come in the form of a letter or notice. Just because it might be a scam, please don’t throw it away until you’re certain.
Generally, the legitimate letters will only inform you about a change to your account, ask you for more information, or let you know a payment is due.
Here’s what not to do with a letter from the IRS:
- Do not ignore it. Each notice is going to give you information about a specific issue and will have instructions on what you should do to address that issue.
- Do not throw it away. Keep all notices and letters from the IRS in your file with your tax returns. In general, the IRS suggests that you keep records for three years from the date you filed your tax return.
- Do not panic. Most of the time, all you need to do is read the letter carefully, then take the appropriate action. The steps you need to take will be outlined in the letter.
- Do not reply- unless you’re specifically instructed to do so. If you’re instructed to send a payment, simply send a payment as your reply. IRS.gov has information about payment options.
Once a tax professional has reviewed your letter to make sure it’s authentic, here’s what you should do:
- Do take action right away. Contact our office immediately. Once you have our verification, take action. These notices may be about changes to your account, taxes owed, a payment request or a specific issue on a tax return. Responding quickly could minimize additional interest and penalty charges.
- Do remember there is usually no need to call the IRS. If you absolutely must contact the IRS by phone, use the number in the upper right-hand corner of the notice. Make sure you have a copy of your tax return and the original letter when you make the call. But please, do not call a number on an IRS letter until you’ve had it reviewed by a professional. If you call a fake number, you will be pulled into a high-pressure scam and may never realize it!
Remember, the IRS sends letters to help you stay up to date with your tax account.
If you find yourself looking at a letter from the IRS, Social Security, or Medicare, please reach out and we will review it for you.