Hey all, I’m Cindy, the Tax Manager here at Bette Hochberger, CPA, CGMA. Today I will be discussing how to spot and handle a fake IRS letter.

In the age of increasing technological sophistication, scams, unfortunately, become more prevalent and convincing. Among the tactics employed by scammers are fake IRS letters attempting to deceive recipients into paying money or providing personal information. As a Tax Manager, I’ve witnessed the distress and confusion these letters can cause. Here’s a guide on how to spot and appropriately handle a fake IRS letter.

Understanding the Signs of a Fake IRS Letter

Fake letters often use language designed to panic the recipient, such as threats of immediate arrest, lawsuits, or property seizures. The IRS will never demand specific payment methods like prepaid debit cards, gift cards, or wire transfers. 

While anyone can make a typo, scammers may produce letters with more noticeable grammatical and spelling mistakes. Fake letters might feature a distorted or incorrect version of the IRS seal. If you receive an IRS form or notice number you’re unfamiliar with, cross-reference it with the official IRS website.

What to Do If You Suspect a Fake IRS Letter

Do not engage with or send money in response to a suspicious letter. Instead, call the IRS at their official phone number (not the number provided in the suspicious letter) to verify if they sent the correspondence. 

Never provide personal or financial details unless you’re absolutely certain you’re dealing with the real IRS. Forward the scam letter to the IRS at phishing@irs.gov, including the subject “Suspicious IRS Letter.” 

If in doubt, consult a CPA or tax professional. They can provide guidance on the legitimacy of the letter and the appropriate steps to take.

How to Safeguard Against Future Scams

Regularly check the IRS website for updates on known scams and deceptive schemes. Invest in a shredder and destroy documents containing sensitive information. Use strong, unique passwords for online accounts. Consider attending workshops on fraud prevention, as many communities and organizations offer them.

While the sophistication of scams continues to evolve, awareness and vigilance remain our best defenses. Always approach unsolicited IRS communications with caution. When in doubt, turn to trusted resources like your CPA or the official IRS website. With the right knowledge and proactive measures, you can effectively safeguard yourself and your finances against these deceptive tactics.

See you all again soon!