Treasury Department Warns Taxpayers of New Scams Involving IRS Revenue Agent Impersonations

The U.S. Treasury Department is warning about a recent surge in scammers impersonating the IRS by phone, email, in person, by mail or by express delivery service. Often, these scammers are seeking personal information such as social security numbers and banking data in order to file false returns or solicit bogus payment. The following are examples of the most schemes reported by taxpayers:

Contact By Letter

One of the newest and more devious schemes involves mail coming in a cardboard express mail envelope from either a delivery service or the United States Postal Service (USPS). The fraudulent letter includes the IRS logo along with a statement that the notice is “in relation to your unclaimed refund.” The contact information does not belong to the IRS, but the mailing looks official. This scheme seeks sensitive personal information from taxpayers, including driver’s license photos that can be used by identity thieves to steal the taxpayer’s refund and other sensitive financial information.

In Person Contact

Scam artists may also appear at a taxpayer’s home or business posing as IRS agents and creating confusion not just for the taxpayer but also for local law enforcement agencies. As this scam has grown, taxpayer confusion about in person visits by IRS revenue officers has increased. To help combat these scams, the IRS recently announced that it is ending most unannounced visits to taxpayers by agency revenue officers. In place of the unannounced visits, revenue officers will instead contact taxpayers through an appointment letter, known as a 725-B Letter, and schedule a follow-up meeting. This will help taxpayers feel more prepared when it is time to meet. Taxpayers who receive a request from IRS in the mail or by phone can always contact IRS customer service to authenticate it.

Contact Via Email and Text Messages

Taxpayers should be on the lookout for a summer surge of tax scams as identity thieves continue sending email and text messages promising tax refunds or offers to help ‘fix’ tax problems. They may pose as the IRS or tax professionals, urging the taxpayer to click fraudulent links so the identity thieves can steal valuable personal information. Taxpayers should remember: the IRS never initiates contact regarding a bill or tax refund by email, text or social media. Taxpayers can also report scams to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration or the Internet Crime Complaint Center.