Tips to Spot and Avoid IRS Scams

Tips to Spot and Avoid IRS Scams

There are few faster ways to get someone’s attention than to say, “I’m from the IRS and you owe money.” Unfortunately, scammers have figured this out, and they are using people’s fear of the IRS to extract money and sensitive financial information.

You do not want to ignore legitimate IRS communication, but you also do not want to open the door for a scammer pretending to be the IRS to take advantage of you.

Here are the most common types of IRS scams and what to watch out for.

IRS Scam Calls

If you get a phone call from the IRS and you did not call them first, you can be almost 100% certain it is an IRS scam call. The IRS always makes first contact by mail and never via a phone call.

IRS Prerecorded Voicemail Scam

The IRS never leaves voicemails, and they certainly do not leave prerecorded or bot-assisted voicemails. If the content of the message is threatening (e.g., “failure to respond could result in your arrest”) it is certainly not a legitimate IRS voicemail.

IRS Email Scam

The IRS does first contact taxpayers by email. There are far too many privacy laws for email to be a viable means of IRS communication. An easy way to spot an IRS email scam is when the sender’s email domain is something other than

IRS Text Message Scam

The IRS will never contact you with a text message. When you get a text or SMS claiming to be from the IRS, the best thing to do is delete it right away. It can be tempting to respond with a pithy or curt remark, but that just lets the scammer know that your phone number works and that a live person is on the other end. Also, never click any links in a fake IRS text message.

IRS Social Media Scam

The IRS is bound by an array of privacy laws that dictate how they can communicate, what they can say to taxpayers, and what questions they can ask. Suffice it to say they will never reach out to you via social media, so ignore any messages you receive on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or TikTok claiming to be from the IRS.

Better yet, report them to the platform so the social media scammer’s account gets shut down.

IRS Scam Letter

Letters in the mail can be a little tricky, as this is the IRS’s primary means of legitimate communication. Some scammers who are particularly savvy even recreate the IRS’s letterhead on the scam letters they send out. But you can still spot a fake IRS letter if you keep your eyes open.

Here are a few things to look out for:

  • No form number (or one that doesn’t appear on the IRS website)
  • Typos, misspellings, and grammatical errors
  • Threats of jail time or imprisonment
  • Requests to remit payment in the form of a gift card or prepaid debit card

IRS Credit Card and Debit Card Scams

The IRS will never ask you for a prepaid credit or debit card to pay your tax debt. In addition to being able to pay taxes online via the official IRS website at, you always have the option to mail the IRS a check or money order.

IRS Gift Cards, iTunes Cards, Amazon Cards, and Prepaid Debit Cards Scams

The IRS certainly does not deal in gift cards, iTunes cards, Amazon cards, or anything else that sounds more appropriate to give your 13-year-old nephew for his birthday than to settle your tax debt. The minute you see or hear one of these payment methods mentioned, delete the email or disconnect the call, as you know it’s an IRS scam.

IRS Arrest, Deportation, and Driver’s License Scams

The IRS cannot deport you or revoke your driver’s license. And while you can be arrested and sent to jail for criminal tax evasion, these proceedings are carried out by law enforcement, not by IRS agents. The IRS will never contact you and threaten to have you put in jail.

IRS Tax Refund Scam

The IRS will never randomly contact you to say they recalculated your tax refund and need you to fill out information — including your Social Security number and other private data — to process a new refund. The IRS already has every piece of information they need from when you filed your tax return.

IRS FDIC Bank Information Scam

The FDIC scam may or may not directly reference the IRS, but the tactics are the same. Someone contacts you about your bank account and asks you to verify information, usually including your account number or Social Security number, on behalf of the FDIC. No legitimate banker or government representative will ever call you at random to ask for this personal financial information.

IRS Tax Identity Theft Scam

A new identity theft scam is for someone to call pretending to be an IRS agent claiming your identity has been stolen. Then, somehow, they convince the victim that in order to get their identity back, they need to go out and purchase a bunch of gift cards or Amazon cards.

If you get a call like this, first ask yourself how much sense it even makes. That’s right: none. Then hang up, because you’re dealing with a tax identity scammer.

IRS Social Security Scam

Some IRS scammers are so bold they will call you and threaten to have your Social Security number cancelled over an unpaid tax debt. Just to be clear, your Social Security number can never be cancelled for any reason whatsoever. Even after you die, your SSN is still yours. It will never be recycled and reused.

IRS Bureau of Tax Enforcement Scam

If you hear the term “Bureau of Tax Enforcement,” just hang up or throw the letter in the garbage. This bureau does not exist.

IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service Scam

The Taxpayer Advocate Service is legitimate, but they do not call people at random, and they certainly do not call people at random and ask for sensitive information like your Social Security number. TAS waits for taxpayers to call them for help. So, do not take a call from a person claiming to be a Taxpayer Advocate Service representative if you did not call TAS first.

IRS Tax Transcript Scam

If you receive an email claiming to be from the IRS that invites you to click a link to see your tax transcript, just delete it. The IRS does provide tax transcripts, but you either must go on the official IRS Get Transcript website at to view it, or you have to request that a transcript copy be sent to the mailing address of your last tax return.

How Can Wiztax Help?

Never ignore notices from the IRS – but always be careful. Call us today at (866) 568-4593 to learn more about how we can help. If you are not sure about a communication you have received, call us and we can help.

Or start here to take our free online evaluation.

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