The IRS emails letters, but so do scammers
Some Internal Revenue Service (IRS) scams are easy to spot because they rely on strange payment methods such as phone calls and prepaid credit cards. This is why some sneaky scammers, in particular, stick to mail and send fake IRS letters in an attempt to trick taxpayers into paying fake invoices. It can be very difficult to tell the difference between a fake IRS letter and a real IRS letter, so you need to be especially careful when the IRS communications season arrives each summer.
What is a fake IRS letter?
If the taxpayer is obliged to pay taxes, or if there are other issues to be resolved, the IRS usually initiates communication by sending a letter. A scammer who knows this will send you a fake IRS letter that looks real and urges you to pay the money you haven’t borrowed.
Fake IRS letters can look very real if the scammers are skilled enough, but there are some important things to look for. If your letter requires payment, please check the requested payment method. The IRS only requires payment by US Treasury check.
If a letter or invoice from the IRS asks you to write a check on the IRS, it’s wrong. If you are asked to make a payment in the form of a prepaid credit card or gift card, it is clearly a fake. If you’re asked to call a phone number other than the official IRS number, it’s a fake.
Andrei Popov / iStock / Getty
Andrei Popov / iStock / Getty
How does a fake IRS letter scam work?
This scam starts with a letter. The letter may appear in your mailbox, or you may need to receive a certified letter notice and receive it at the post office as a legitimate letter from the IRS.
Fake IRS letters often look genuine and often include the IRS emblem, fake case numbers, and other details designed to look legitimate.
The letter may argue that you are borrowing taxes, making a mistake in your taxes, or providing another reason to pay the IRS. This can refer to potential proceedings, including threats such as property seizure and imprisonment, usually both the amount borrowed and the request for immediate payment.
In some cases, you may be asked by letter to call your phone number to discuss your options. By calling this number, fraudsters may request payment by gift card or wire transfer, or ask for sensitive personal or financial information such as social security or credit card numbers. ..
In any case, fake IRS letter scams rely on bullying and intimidation to act before you think about it.
Does the IRS send letters by mail?
The IRS sends letters through the United States Postal Service. In fact, this is the main way the IRS will get in touch if you have to pay taxes. However, there is a very important difference between a real IRS letter and a fake IRS letter.
When the IRS sends the first letter, it never requires immediate payment. The first letter you receive from the IRS usually indicates that the IRS thinks your tax is a problem. The letter contains details and you can appeal if you think the IRS is wrong.
He claims that some fake IRS letters came from the tax office. There is no such institution. If you receive a letter from the tax office, it is a fake.
If this is the first time you’ve received a letter from the IRS requesting immediate payment and you’ve heard it, the letter is probably fake. The IRS only accepts US Treasury checks, so it’s a good idea to check your payment method as well.
For other payment methods, go to the IRS.gov/payments website. Legitimate payment options include wire transfers, debit or credit cards, wire transfers, checks or money orders, and even cash through retail partners, but not debit cards, card gifts, or the U.S. Treasury Department. Checks to an entity are never prepaid. ..
How do fake IRS letter scammers find victims?
IRS letter scammers find potential victims through public databases such as telephones and rosters. Usually, this is not a targeted scam, so scammers simply get as many names and addresses as possible and send as many fake IRS letters as possible.
How can I avoid participating in this scam?
There’s nothing you can do to avoid receiving fake letters from the IRS in the first place, but if you receive a letter from the IRS, you can take some important precautions to avoid becoming a victim. I can do it.
The IRS mailing season is during the summer months when agencies tend to send the most invoices and notifications, but scammers know that. You may receive a fake IRS letter in the summer. You can also receive genuine IRS letters at any time of the year, so you can’t use the year period to assess reliability.
The first thing to look for is the official seal that a genuine IRS letter has. The actual IRS letter also contains an alert number or letter number that you can use to track them system-wide and verify their authenticity. If the letter does not have these marks, it may be fake.
The biggest indicator of fake letters is the request you pay immediately. It’s also a great indicator if he asks you to pay something other than the IRS or the US Treasury.
The important thing to remember is that if the letter is genuine, you absolutely must contact the IRS to avoid further enforcement measures and penalties. To do this, you need to call the IRS official phone number 1-800-829-1040 and give the notification, letter, or letter file number.
If the letter is genuine, you have the opportunity to ask how much they say you are borrowing, but you need to sort it out. If the letter is fake, they can be found from the fake notice, letter or case number.
Contacting the IRS can be daunting, but you have nothing to lose and everything you can gain. If you really owe the IRS, or if you have some kind of error that you need to deal with, ignoring it only exacerbates the problem. If the letter is fake, you avoid being the victim of a scammer.
I am already a victim. what should i do?
Scammers do everything to make them look legal, so it’s easy to be the victim of this scam. If you are tricked into sending payments or providing sensitive personal information, you should report the fraud to the appropriate authorities.
The IRS requires that fraud, such as fraudulent letters from the IRS, be reported to the Treasury Department’s Tax Administration. You can report using their website or call 1-800-366-4484.
You can also send an email to email@example.com with the subject “IRSImpersonation”.
If you provide information such as your credit card number or social security number to a scammer, you need to take steps to prevent the scammer from stealing your identity.
How can I avoid being the target of fraudulent IRS email scams?
It’s not really a targeted scam, so it’s not a scam that can be prevented by taking precautions or paying attention. IRS letter scammers want to create a wide net and catch as many victims as possible, so they can be targeted like anyone else.
The target of this scam is inevitable, so all you can really do is look closely at the letter you received from the IRS. Do not blindly pay after receiving a letter or call the number provided by the IRS letter unless it is also mentioned in the official contact section of the IRS website.
Fake IRS Letters: How to Identify Them and Protect Yourself
The IRS sends letters through the mail, but so do scammers
Some Internal Revenue Service (IRS) scams are really easy to spot, because they rely on phone calls and weird payment methods like prepaid credit cards. That’s why some particularly devious scammers stick to the mail and send fake IRS letters in an attempt to fool taxpayers into paying fake bills. It can be really difficult to tell the difference between a fake IRS letter and a real one, so you have to be especially vigilant when IRS correspondence season rolls around each summer.
What Are Fake IRS Letters?
When a taxpayer owes back taxes, or there are any other issues that need to be sorted out, the IRS usually initiates contact by sending a letter. Knowing that, scammers will send fake IRS letters that look like the real thing in an attempt to fool you into paying money that you don’t owe.
Fake IRS letters can look quite real if the scammer is skilled enough, but there are a few key things that you can look for. If the letter demands payment, check to see the requested payment method. The IRS will only request payment in the form of a check made out to the US Treasury.
If an IRS letter or bill asks you to write a check to the IRS, then it’s fake. If it asks you to send payment in the form of a prepaid credit card or gift card, then it’s clearly fake. If it asks you to call any phone number other than an official IRS number, then it’s fake.
AndreyPopov / iStock / Getty How Does the Fake IRS Letter Scam Work?
This scam starts with a letter. The letter may show up in your mailbox, or you may receive a notice of a certified letter and have to go pick it up at the post office just like a legitimate IRS letter.
Fake IRS letters usually look like the real thing, and will typically include the IRS crest, a fake case number, and other details that are designed to make it look legitimate.
The letter may claim that you owe back taxes, that you made a mistake on your taxes, or provide another reason that you owe money to the IRS. It may reference a potential lawsuit, include threats like asset seizure or jail, and will usually include both a dollar amount that you owe and a demand to pay immediately.
In some cases, the letter may ask you to call a phone number to discuss your options. If you call this number, the scammer may demand payment through gift cards or a wire transfer, or ask you to provide sensitive personal and financial details like your social security number or credit card number.
In any event, the fake IRS letter scam relies on scaring or intimidating you into taking action before you’ve thought things through.
Does the IRS Send Letters Through the Mail?
The IRS does send letters through the US Postal Service. In fact, that’s the primary way that the IRS initiates contact if you actually do owe back taxes. However, there are some very important differences between real IRS letters and fake IRS letters.
When the IRS sends an initial letter, they never demand immediate payment. The first letter you receive from the IRS will typically inform you of the fact that the IRS believes there is an issue with your taxes. The letter will provide details, and you will be given the opportunity to appeal if you think the IRS is wrong.
Some fake IRS letters claim to come from the Bureau of Tax Enforcement. There is no such agency. If you receive a letter from the Bureau of Tax Enforcement, it’s fake.
If you receive a letter from the IRS that demands immediate payment, and it’s the first time you’ve heard about the matter, then the letter is probably fake. You can also check the payment method, as the IRS only accepts checks made out to the US Treasury.
For other payment methods, they will refer you to the IRS.gov/payments website. Legitimate payment options include bank account transfer, debit or credit card, bank wire transfer, check or money order, and even cash through retail partners, but never prepaid debit cards, gift cards, or checks made out to any entity other than the US Treasury.
How Do Fake IRS Letter Scammers Find Victims?
IRS letter scammers find potential victims through public databases like phone and address directories. This usually isn’t a targeted scam, so scammers simply obtain a large number of names and addresses and send out as many fake IRS letters as they can.
How Do I Avoid Getting Involved in This Scam?
There isn’t anything you can do to avoid receiving a fake IRS letter in the first place, but you can avoid becoming a victim by taking a few important precautions if you ever do receive a letter from the IRS.
IRS correspondence season, when the agency tends to send out the most bills and notices, is in the summer, but scammers know that. It’s possible to receive a fake IRS letter in the summer, and it’s also possible to receive a real IRS letter at any other time of year, so you can’t use the time of year to judge authenticity.
The first thing to look for is an official seal, which real IRS letters have. Real IRS letters also include notice or letter numbers, which you can use to track them through the system and verify authenticity. If a letter lacks these markers, then it might be fake.
The biggest indicator of a fake letter is a demand that you pay immediately. If it asks you to make a check out to IRS, or anything other than the US Treasury, that’s also a huge indicator.
The important thing to remember is that if the letter is real, you absolutely need to get into contact with the IRS to avoid additional enforcement actions and penalties. To do this, you should call the official IRS phone number: 1-800-829-1040 and provide them with the notice, letter, or case number from your letter.
If the letter is real, you’ll have an opportunity to question the amount that they say you owe, but you will have to deal with the issue. If the letter is fake, they’ll be able to tell from the fake notice, letter, or case number.
Contacting the IRS might be intimidating, but you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. If you really owe the IRS money, or there was some kind of error you need to deal with, ignoring it will only make the problem worse. If the letter is fake, then you’ll avoid falling victim to the scammer.
I’m Already a Victim. What Should I Do?
It’s easy to find yourself the victim of this scam, because the scammers do everything they can to seem legitimate. If you fell for their tricks and sent a payment, or even provided sensitive personal information, you need to report the scam to the appropriate authorities.
The IRS asks that you report scams like fake IRS letters to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. You can report using their website, or you can call 1-800-366-4484.
You can also send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org using the subject line “IRS Impersonation Scam.”
If you provided the scammer with information like credit card numbers or your social security number, you need to take steps to prevent the scammer from stealing your identity.
How Do I Avoid Being Targeted for the Fake IRS Letter Scam?
This isn’t a scam you can avoid by taking precautions or being careful, because it isn’t really a targeted scam. Fake IRS letter scammers just cast a wide net and hope to catch as many victims as they can, so you’re just as likely to be targeted as anyone else.
Since you can’t avoid becoming a target of this scam, all you can really do is look at any IRS letters you receive with a critical eye. Never blindly make a payment after receiving a single letter, and never call a number that’s provided by an IRS letter if that number isn’t also listed in the official contact section of the IRS website.
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