By now, email has been around long enough for us to know better when we receive the email that tells us that Bill Gates is going to send us money for every email address we forward to. (That’s SO 1999).
And I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen a drop in the number of emails I get that are written in all caps and start with something like “GREETINGS TO YOU BLESSED ONE” and then goes on to tell me that some highly placed Nigerian politician is trying to get millions of dollars out of the country.
And, of course, there are others that pretend to be something they’re not. I remember seeing one from the “Bankfomaerica” (as if the people at the Bank of American had forgotten to spell their own company name and yet decided to send emails from that domain anyway).
Not surprisingly, we’re not immune to emails claiming to be from the IRS.
In these cases, scammers will use the IRS name and logo to get people to reveal personal information, including their Social Security number, their bank account or credit cards numbers, and other information.
First, you should know that the IRS states explicitly that they do not send unsolicited emails to you about your tax information. In other words, you can probably expect a phone call and/or a knock at the door long before you expect an email. This makes sense, especially since the telephone and face-to-face are far more secure forms of communication, and reputable. (After all, they want to make sure they’re talking to the right person, too). Second, even when the IRS contacts you, they won’t ask for passwords or PIN numbers to bank accounts.
The IRS makes it easy to know whether an email you’ve received claiming to be from the IRS is legitimately…the IRS does NOT send unsolicited e-mail about tax account matters to individual, business, tax-exempt or other taxpayers. Here’s a quote from one of their press releases discussing this:
“The IRS does not send out unsolicited e-mails or ask for detailed personal and financial information. Additionally, the IRS never asks people for the PIN numbers, passwords or similar secret access information for their credit card, bank or other financial accounts.”
Read more about Suspicious e-Mails and Identity Theft on irs.gov
If you do get an email claiming to be from the IRS, you can know for sure that its not from them. Be sure that you don’t reply to it. Delete it or forward it to the IRS. Don’t download anything from the email, don’t click on links in the email… don’t even click on links that say they’re going to the IRS website. The US government will never request any sensitive personal information via e-mail.
If you have received an e-mail claiming to come from the IRS you may forward it to a mailbox the IRS has established to receive such e-mails, firstname.lastname@example.org, using instructions contained in an article titled “How to Protect Yourself from Suspicious E-Mails or Phishing Schemes.” Following the instructions will help the IRS track the suspicious e-mail to its origins and shut down the scam. You can find the article by visiting IRS.gov and entering the words “suspicious e-mails” into the search box in the upper right corner of the front page.
If it really is the Internal Revenue Service, you can be sure that they’ll get in touch with you in other ways, and they will always send correspondence in writing through the postal service.