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Beware of fake IRS letters

Many taxpayers are aware that the IRS will never call to demand immediate payment over the phone, or call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill. To try and trick taxpayers, some scammers are sending letters, hoping that folks will take the bait.

In one version, the letter threatens an IRS lien or levy based on bogus delinquent taxes owed to a nonexistent agency called the “Bureau of Tax Enforcement.” There is no such agency. The lien notification may also reference the IRS to make you think that the letter is legitimate. The IRS warned taxpayers about this trick – and others – earlier this summer. You can read about those recent IRS scam warnings here [1].

Since then, taxpayers have continued to report [2] receipt of fake IRS letters. Some variations of fake IRS letters claim that a warrant has been issued to a taxpayer because of unpaid tax obligations. As with previous scam efforts, the letter goes on to warn that the warrant could result in arrests or other criminal action if the taxpayer doesn’t pay immediately.

In some cases [3], the fake IRS letters have included facts about real tax debts. That’s scary for taxpayers because it feels legitimate, but keep in mind that some tax-related information, like liens that have been filed against taxpayers, may be available to the public. Don’t be frightened into giving up cash or personal information just because a scammer knows one or two facts about you.

Instead, use caution when replying to correspondence. The IRS does send letters to taxpayers. But there are some ways to spot a legit IRS letter from a fake one. Here are a few tips:

(You can find out more about real tax notices here [6]. You can find out how to respond to your tax notices here [7].)

And with tax scams coming from all directions this season, don’t forget about the phones: the IRS says that phone scams are still “a major threat to taxpayers.” That’s why phishing and phone scams topped the 2019 “Dirty Dozen” list [8]. Don’t engage or respond with scammers. Here’s what to do instead:

If you believe you are a victim of an IRS impersonation scam, you should report it to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at its IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting site [10]and to the IRS by emailing [email protected] [11] with the subject line “IRS Impersonation Scam.”

Keep your personal information safe by remaining alert – and when in doubt, assume it’s a scam. For tips on protecting yourself from identity theft-related tax fraud, click here [12].


https://www.forbes.com/sites/kellyphillipserb/2019/08/05/beware-fake-irs-letters-are-making-the-rounds-this-summer/#446df7f3b945 [13]