With all of the tax scams going around, it’s easy to feel a bit overwhelmed when discerning if a communication is official, or a fraud. Whether it’s in the form of a mailer, phone call, or face-to-face visit, scammers are continually finding new ways to convince us that they are working for the Federal government. However, even when it feels like the odds are stacked against us, there’s hope.
Is it really the IRS? Here’s how you find out:
What They Will Never Do
If you find yourself being contacted by someone claiming IRS authority, make sure you spot the immediate signs of false identity. How did they reach out to you? The government has very clear guidelines on how they authorize employees to reach out regarding taxes, audits, investigations and more. For example, the IRS will never ask you for a specific payment method, like a prepaid debit card or wire transfer. If asked for this, it should immediately raise a red flag. In addition, you will never be asked to make a payment without the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed. The IRS is also not permitted to seize drivers licenses or threaten citizens with police force and other forms of law enforcement.
What They Will Do
If the IRS is indeed trying to contact you, they will follow their official protocol. The first step is official notice. The government will always send mail indicating to the taxpayer that there is an issue with their account. If they do not receive return communication, they are allowed to call or come to your home unannounced to collect a debt, but will never ask for an immediate payment to a source other than the U.S. Treasury. If you they do knock on your door, be sure to ask them for their identification. Each IRS representative will always provide you with two forms of official credentials called a pocket commission and an HSPD-12 card, which is one of the most secure and standardized forms of ID available. In the event that a private tax collector is assigned to your account, you will receive a notice in the mail indicating so.