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How to Identify a Fake IRS Letter


from Council on Aging of Middle Tennessee

A few months ago, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) reported complaints from people receiving fake letters supposedly from the IRS. In the past, it was made clear to potential victims of IRS scams that the agency will never call or email regarding debt due. Mail was always the primary form of communication. Scammers have obviously caught on and have started mailing fake correspondences. In some cases, real tax information has been included in these false letters. Which makes it harder for you to determine what is real and what is a scam. Keep in mind, some details, like a tax related lien, is public record. Don’t allow scammers to frighten you into revealing additional information or paying money.

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Here are some ways to spot the differences between a fake and real IRS correspondence:

  • The IRS will NEVER threaten to arrest you by any form of communication.
  • An authentic IRS letter will include their toll-free 800 number. If a phone number is included, don’t call that one. Call IRS at 1-800-829-1040. When using any government website make sure the web address ends in .gov and starts with “https”.
  • An IRS envelope will include the seal and legitimate letters will include your partial tax ID number.
  • There will be information on how to make a payment and/or setup payment options. Payment will ALWAYS be made out to U.S. Treasury. Asking for banking information over the phone or for gift cards as payment are sure signs that it is a scam.

If you believe you are a victim of an IRS scam, report it to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) online at the IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting site.

Sources: Business Insider, Forbes &

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