The IRS has seen a surge in phone scams where taxpayers are receiving aggressive and threatening phone calls from fraudsters impersonating IRS agents.  Take a moment before responding to any communication about your tax return — and verify that the query is actually from the IRS.  If there is a legitimate issue with your account at the IRS, their first point of contact will be by mail.  If you are receiving a phone call, the contact may be from a criminal who intends to steal your financial identity.

The scam can take many forms and often starts with an official-looking e-mail complete with an IRS logo that warns you of a problem with your return. You are instructed to click on an embedded link to correct the situation. The link sends you to a website that asks a series of personal questions. Answers you supply can be used to file fraudulent tax returns or extract money from your bank accounts.

Sometimes these emails will be sent before the scammer makes a phone call.  This is intended to make the communication seem more legitimate. The caller might even know the last four digits of your social security number.

Don’t Get Scammed

Always remember that the IRS will never initiate contact with you by telephone or by e-mail. Below are three things you can do to avoid a scam:

  1. If you receive an out-of-the-blue e-mail purporting to be from the IRS, do not click any link or reply in any way.
  2. If you receive a phone call about your tax return, do not provide any personal details. Simply note the caller’s information and disconnect.
  3. Whether you are contacted by e-mail, phone call, or standard mail paper notice, forward the information to your tax professional.

Professionals can help determine if the communication is real — or not — and guide you on the best way to respond. They can also help you report the incident to the IRS.