Everyone knows the IRS does not call you or email you as first contact, right?
Well, the IRS does not email you as first contact. They also don’t fax text, or robocall as first contact.
If the first you hear from the “IRS” is a threatening phone call demanding immediate payment, you’re not actually talking to the IRS.
I told an IRS auditor that I heard the IRS never uses a phone call as first contact, and she told me this isn’t necessarily true. The IRS may send you an actual letter via the US Postal Service, or they may call you. If they happen to have your phone number calling you is much quicker than sending a letter, which can delay the auditor’s process by two weeks.
When the real IRS phones the auditor’s approach will be very different from a scammer’s. The auditor will introduce herself as an IRS employee and provider her employee number. OK, some scammers may pretend to do that. The auditor will tell the taxpayer that his/her tax return is under review and that she would like to schedule a meeting. I’ve never heard of a scammer doing that. She will not discuss the amount owed, will not demand immediate payment, and will not threaten to send the police to arrest the taxpayer. Scammers often do those things. The auditor will, however, inform the taxpayer of his or her rights under our tax law. I’ve not yet heard of a phone scammer who read the taxpayer rights to his victim. If the taxpayer does not believe the auditor is from the IRS, she will request that the taxpayer contact her upon receiving the IRS letter she will send. It’s relatively low key. Scammers are not low key.
Unexpected, polite calls to schedule an audit are most likely from the real IRS – use your best judgment.
Unexpected contact from the “IRS” in the form of an email, a phone call demanding immediate payment, a fax, text message, or a robocall won’t be from the IRS. The IRS offers this page of actions to take depending on the contact you’ve received: http://www.irs.gov/uac/Report-Phishing. If you’ve received one of these forms of contact but you think you may owe money call the IRS at 1.800.829.1040 – do not respond to the unsolicited contact you’ve received.