Our office has attorneys that specialize in tax law as well as a tax specialist who worked for the IRS for over twenty years. We frequently receive frantic phone calls from innocent taxpayers who have been targeted by a scammer impersonating the IRS. We know what to look for to know if it is an IRS scam. Here is a list of common takeaways to help identify when you’re being scammed.

1. The IRS called me and demanded payment over the phone.

If someone calls you and demands that you pay your tax debt over the phone, it’s a scam. These scammers are sophisticated and know how to use scare tactics. They use bogus IRS employee names and badge numbers to sound like a real government official. If you don’t answer the phone, these scammers typically leave an urgent voicemail with callback information and threats. Remember, the IRS communicates with taxpayers via mail through distinct notices. If in doubt, reach out to an experienced tax attorney to verify a notice.

2. It says IRS on the caller ID, it must be them.

IRS Notice
This is a mock up of what an IRS notice looks like.

Sophisticated telephone scammers can reroute or alter the caller ID function to make it look like the IRS is calling, once again the IRS communicates with taxpayers via mail through notices. A mock up notice is included for your reference.

3. Make your payment to _________.

A common misconception is that checks to the IRS should be written to the IRS. Checks should be made out to the United States Treasury. The IRS will never ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone. Your first notice to pay a delinquent tax bill will be through the mail. The IRS will never demand payment be made through a prepaid debit card, gift care, or even wire transfer.

4. The caller threatened to involve the police if I didn’t pay immediately.

A common IRS scam technique is to instill fear in the caller. The fear tricks the caller into giving away confidential, private information. The IRS will never threaten to bring in local police or other law enforcement to have you arrested for not paying. The IRS will also not threaten to deport an individual or suspend a driver’s license.

5. The IRS is at my doorstep.

In special circumstances, the IRS will visit taxpayers at their home or business due to delinquent taxes, an audit, or pending criminal proceedings. Typically, you will receive notices in the mail prior. If an IRS representative visits you, he or she will provide two forms of official identification. The first is called a pocket commission. The second, is called a HSPD-12 card. This card is a government-wide form of identification for federal employees. You have a right to see this card and verify the information. The representative should provide you with an IRS phone number for verifying the information and the individual’s identity.

When in doubt, call for help.

If you unsure if it’s the IRS demanding payment, please do not hesitate to contact Kennedy Law Offices to verify. Our phone number is: 651-262-2080 and email address is: clerk@mpkennedylaw.com. If you are concerned you are being scammed, reach out to local law enforcement.