Since it’s that time of year again: if you get a call, text, or e-mail “from the IRS”, they’re almost 100% trying to scam you.

by aRVAthrowaway

The IRS doesn’t initiate contact by email, text, phone, or social media channels to request personal or financial information or to initially demand payment.

Generally, the IRS’s initial first method of contact is a letter. (There are some obvious exceptions to this like formal investigations and such.)

If you get any contact that’s not a letter from someone purporting to be from the IRS that isn’t a letter: 1) don’t provide the sender/caller with any information, 2) don’t communicate with them any further, and 3) report it.

The real IRS also won’t demand immediate payment, payment using any certain type of payment method, make payment to any entity other than the “United States Treasury”, not provide you with information about how to appeal/question or state the amount you owe or, most importantly, threaten to bring in law enforcement officers. The sender/caller mentioning any of these things are huge red flags.

Also, if you experience the rare occurrence of having someone knock on your door claiming to be from the IRS, know that they will provide two forms of official credentials (a pocket commission and a HSPD-12 card) that you have a right to see. They’ll also provide you with a dedicated IRS telephone number for verifying the information and confirming their identity if requested.

So, in short, if you’ve never seen a letter or a bill from the IRS, there’s an almost 100% chance you’re being scammed. As a former IRS commissioner said: “If you are surprised to be hearing from us, you are not hearing from us.”

Read more about various tax-related scams here.