20+ year of experience
Insurance Defense Lawyers
Personal attention

Strong and Dedicated Lawyers
Eager to Protect our Clients Find out if you have a case Find out if you have a case

How to Spot IRS Scams

As if tax season is not unwelcome enough on its own, greedy, dishonest individuals have also made this time of year “scam season.” These predators use deceptive techniques, presenting themselves as representatives of the IRS or other “official” entities to steal identities and money from unsuspecting victims, and their modes of operation are varied. IRS scammers use email, phone calls, snail mail, face-to-face interactions, and even phony television commercials to carry out their schemes. 

It is important to familiarize yourself with these methods so you can protect yourself. And if you have fallen victim to an IRS scheme, you can fight back with help from the Florida credit card fraud attorneys at Sharmin & Sharmin, P.A.

Man looking at IRS reports.

Types of IRS Scams

The IRS classifies scams into two general categories: identity theft schemes and advance fee scams. In identity theft schemes, the scammers present themselves as “legitimate institutions,” tricking victims into providing their confidential, personal information–for example, Social Security numbers, bank account numbers and PINS, credit numbers, or passwords. The scammers then use this information to access, control, and often drain victims’ accounts. 

Sometimes, scammers use email to carry out identity theft schemes. These attempts are called “phishing.” Regrettably, email users become victims of identity by clicking on links sent from official-seeming accounts or that come with a warning. Ironically, these fake warnings often tell victims they must click the link to protect themselves from a scam or to correct a problem.

Other times, scammers work to convince victims to advance the scammers (posing in official capacity again) a sum of money, promising them a larger benefit in return. These scams are called “advance fee scams.”

Examples of Specific Scams

Knowing about specific types of scams is a way to prepare yourself to recognize a scam for what it is and avoid becoming a victim. Scams seen by the IRS include:

  • Refund scams: Victims receive emails telling them they are eligible for a tax refund–they just have to fill out an attached form providing personal information to start the process.
  • Lottery windfalls: Victims receive emails telling them they are entitled to lottery winnings or other cash consignments, and can receive it by filling out a form. Or, they may receive an actual (but phony) check for their winnings and be told to send a 10% payment to cover taxes.
  • Beneficial owner form scams: These target foreign nationals and uses an official but corrupted IRS form to request passport and other information, threatening repercussions if the form is not filled and returned promptly.

While these are common scams, they are not the only ones, and unfortunately, new scams arise consistently. To protect yourself, be suspicious of any communication asking you for sensitive information or requiring you to “click a link” or “complete the form” to receive money, send money, or avoid legal consequences. These requests are “red flags” and should put you on high alert.

IRS Scam “Red Flags” 

There are certain things the IRS just does not do. So if you receive a communication or visit from someone presenting themselves as an IRS representative and they do any of those things, note those red flags. According to its “Tips to help taxpayers recognize tax scams,” the IRS and its “authorized private collection agencies” never:

  • Make phone calls demanding immediate payments through specific payment methods, including debit or gift cards or wire transfers
  • Ask for checks payable to a third party
  • Threatens to have the potential victims immediately arrested for not paying taxes
  • Demands tax payment without giving the potential victim a chance to “question or appeal” the amount

The Florida Sheriff’s Association (FSA) offers additional advice, warning about unsolicited calls demanding immediate action (payment) under threat of arrest, license revocation, deportation, or something else are typical scams. The “IRS will not make first contact by phone call” but get in touch through the U.S. mail service.

The FSA also encourages attention to detail. The IRS provides specific, detailed instructions in their letters. Their letters also include a “notice number or letter number in the top or bottom right-hand corner of the notice.” If a mailed communication seems rushed or unclear, or is missing the notice number or letter, regard it as a scam and do not proceed without first contacting the IRS.

If You Think You Are the Victim of a Scam Attempt

There are important steps to take if you think you might be being scammed. If you receive an unsolicited phone call from the “IRS” or other “official” agency claiming you owe taxes, and you are pretty confident you do not, hang up. Then, report the call to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. 

The IRS also encourages you to report the call ID and callback number through an email to phising@irs.gov and report the call to the Federal Trade Commission. Report phishing attempts to the same entities.

If an agent shows up at your door and you have not been informed of an audit, be wary. The IRS only visits taxpayers’ homes if that taxpayer is undergoing an audit–and the taxpayer would have been notified of that audit before the visit. 

If you are nervous, thinking you might owe taxes, do not send any money or information without verifying what you owe and where to send it. You can start by reviewing the IRS collection process, reviewing IRS payment options, and calling the IRS (800-829-1040).

If you think you have fallen for a scam, and have sent money or given personal information, reach out to the Florida Identity Theft Attorneys at Sharmin & Sharmin, P.A. We can help you with critical next steps and fight for compensation

Stay Alert

When it comes to protecting yourself from IRS scams, you cannot be too alert or too suspicious. It is a sad truth that scammers abound, and their well-crafted schemes can lead to devastating consequences, but you are not powerless against these schemes. Be on the lookout for red flags, familiarize yourself with IRS processes, and think twice before clicking on links or sending sensitive information. 

Do you have a case?

Find out in 3 easy steps if you have a case.
All fields are required. If you need immediate assistance, do not hesitate to call us at (1-844) 742-7646

*information required