Recognize IRS Tax Scams

IRS tax fraud sign
No one wants to be on the wrong side of the IRS. That is why, in the months leading up to the May 17 extended tax filing deadline every year, scammers come out in full force to take advantage of the worries and fears of American taxpayers.

Tax scammers utilize three effective lines of attack: phone, phishing emails, and fake IRS mail notices. Your vigilance and caution is your best defense against them. Here’s what you need to know to fend off IRS tax fraud.


Types of IRS Tax Fraud

Phone Scams

IRS phone scams can come in many forms. The IRS never, ever attempts to contact taxpayers by phone. That also means it never sends text messages or leaves voicemails. If you receive a call, text, or prerecorded message from a person claiming to be an IRS representative, report it to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 800-366-4484 or

Email Phishing Scam

An email phishing scam attempts to extract sensitive information by disguising emails to look like official notices from a government agency or financial institution. You need to know that the IRS never uses emails to contact taxpayers. If you receive such an email, forward it immediately to the IRS at [email protected] with the subject line “IRS Impersonation Scam.”

IRS Mail Scam

Phony IRS letters may be more challenging to detect, but there are ways to tell the difference between legitimate and fake IRS mail.

First, a real IRS letter comes in a government envelope with the IRS seal prominently displayed. Second, the letter should include a notice number in the upper right corner.

Inside the letter, you will find the IRS contact information, including an 800 number. There should also be a statement of your taxpayer rights. Finally, if the letter’s purpose is to collect past due taxes, it should include a list of payment options, including info for making an online payment at A sure indication the letter is fake is if it provides the option of mailing a payment to any location other than the U.S. Treasury Department or offers a phone payment using a credit card.

If you’re concerned about protecting yourself from these kinds of attacks, registering for an IRS Identity Protection PIN may be right for you. Read more about this new program.

About This Author


Alpine Bank Staff

Alpine Bank is an independent, employee-owned organization with headquarters in Glenwood Springs and banking offices across Colorado’s Western Slope, mountains and Front Range.

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