There are few letters in the mail that can make your stomach turn like an IRS notice. Unfortunately, scammers have figured out how to take advantage of this fear by sending fake letters claiming to be from the IRS because they know they will get people’s attention.
For that reason, it is critical to verify any notice or letter you receive from the IRS is actually from the IRS. Otherwise, you risk giving your personal information to someone committing fraudulent activities.
Here’s what you need to know about how to tell if your IRS notice or letter is real.
What Are the Reasons the IRS Will Send a Notice or Letter?
The IRS corresponds with taxpayers via U.S. mail for a number of reasons, usually before they initiate any other form of contact. If you get a notice or letter saying it’s from the IRS, chances are good that it’s real, but you’ll still want to follow the steps in this guide to be sure.
Here are a few reasons the IRS will send you a notice or letter:
- If you have a balance due, the IRS might send a CP14, CP501, CP503 or CP504 notice.
- If the refund you are due turns out to be larger or smaller than the one you claimed on your tax return, the IRS will notify you via a CP12 notice.
- If the IRS needs to verify your identity before it can process your tax return, it will inform you by sending a 5071C, 5747C, 6331C or 5447C letter.
- If the IRS determines that you have an unfiled tax return from a prior year, it will send you a CP80 notice.
- If there will be a delay in processing your tax refund, the IRS will let you know via a 707C letter.
When you receive a notice or letter from the IRS, you can visit the Understanding Your IRS Notice or Letter page on the official IRS website and search for your notice or letter number to find additional information and instructions.
How Do You Identify That a Notice or Letter Is From the IRS?
Legitimate IRS logos always contain a few specific characteristics. The IRS logo is featured prominently, usually in the top left corner of the letter. The letter will also contain several pieces of information that identify you, such as your truncated Social Security number, your tax balance and the tax year in question.
It will also have a section explaining your rights as a taxpayer, as well as a toll-free number you can call for questions. When you call the number, the IRS representative who takes your call will never phish for personal information over the phone.
What Are the Signs an “IRS” Notice or Letter Is Fake?
Scammers often make one or more mistakes in trying to replicate a legitimate IRS letter.
Keep an eye out for the following:
- The IRS logo is missing.
- The letter references a tax return you never filed.
- The letter features typos and grammatical errors.
- The letter threatens jail time if you don’t respond.
- The letter asks you to remit payment in the form of a gift card or prepaid debit/credit card.
- The letter does not arrive in a government envelope stamped with the IRS logo.
What Is the IRS Phone Number to Verify Your Notice or Letter Is Real?
How Do You Report a Fake IRS Notice or Letter Scam?
If you receive a notice or letter stating that it’s from the IRS and you determine that it’s a scam, you should report it to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). The TIGTA U.S. Treasury website has a page dedicated to reporting scams. You can also email [email protected] to report a fake IRS notice or letter.
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