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How To Identify and Protect Yourself From IRS Scams This Tax Season

As taxpayers get ready for tax season, the IRS warns individuals to watch out for tax scammers and their new tricks.
UPDATED MAR 11, 2024
Cover Image Source: Photo by Mikhail Nilov | Pexels
Cover Image Source: Photo by Mikhail Nilov | Pexels

Scammers often exploit individuals' fear of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to steal personal information or extort money. Understanding how to identify and protect yourself from these scams is essential for safeguarding your finances and personal information. Here's a comprehensive guide to help you navigate IRS scams this tax season.


IRS scams come in various forms, but they typically involve fraudsters impersonating IRS agents or using deceptive tactics to coerce individuals into disclosing sensitive information or making fraudulent payments. Common IRS scams include:

Phone Scams: Scammers call unsuspecting individuals, claiming to be IRS agents, and threaten them with arrest, deportation, or legal action for purported tax violations. They often demand immediate payment via wire transfer, prepaid debit card, or gift card.

Email Phishing: Fraudulent emails disguised as official IRS communications are sent to individuals, prompting them to click on malicious links or provide personal information such as Social Security numbers, bank account details, or passwords.

Identity Theft: Scammers use stolen personal information to file fraudulent tax returns or claim tax refunds on behalf of unsuspecting victims. This type of scam can result in financial losses and complications with the IRS.

Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by Scott Olson
Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by Scott Olson

Recognizing the signs of such scams is essential for avoiding potential fraud. Here are some indicators that an interaction with the IRS may be a scam:

Threats or Intimidation: Genuine IRS agents do not use aggressive or threatening language to demand immediate payment or threaten legal action over the phone.

Unsolicited Communication: Be wary of unsolicited phone calls, emails, or text messages claiming to be from the IRS. The IRS typically initiates contact through traditional mail correspondence.

Requests for Payment: The IRS does not demand payment via wire transfer, prepaid debit cards, or gift cards. Any such request is likely a scam.

Requests for Personal Information: The IRS will never ask for sensitive information like Social Security numbers, passwords, or financial account details via email, phone, or text message.

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Suspicious URLs or Email Addresses: Phishing emails often contain suspicious links or email addresses that mimic official IRS domains. Exercise caution before clicking on any links or downloading attachments.

Taking proactive measures can help mitigate the risk of falling victim to IRS scams. Follow these tips to safeguard your personal information and finances:

Verify Caller Identity: If you receive a call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, ask for their name, badge number, and a callback number. Verify their identity by contacting the IRS directly using the official phone number listed on their website.


Be Cautious With Emails: Avoid clicking on links or downloading attachments from unsolicited emails claiming to be from the IRS. Instead, manually type the IRS website address into your browser to access official information.

Protect Personal Information: Never share sensitive information like Social Security numbers, bank account details, or passwords in response to unsolicited communications. The IRS will never ask for this information via email, phone, or text message.

Use Secure Channels: When communicating with the IRS or accessing tax-related information online, ensure that you use secure and reputable channels. Look for the "https://" protocol in website URLs and verify the legitimacy of IRS-related websites.

If you encounter a potential IRS scam or believe you've been targeted by fraudsters, report the incident to the IRS, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), or your state's attorney general's office. By reporting scams, you can help prevent others from becoming victims.