How to spot an IRS scam phone call, letter or email - Montgomery Alabama news.


How to spot an IRS scam phone call, letter or email

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Several viewers have recently reported getting scam calls from someone posing as an IRS agent.

The IRS and David Smitherman with the BBB have shared some red flags you should watch out for if you get a suspicious call, text or email from someone claiming to be with the IRS.

Scam phone calls

The first thing consumers should know is that the IRS will never call to ask for immediate payment. If you do owe taxes, the IRS will first send you a bill by mail, then follow up by phone.

Smitherman told us last year that scammers will use scare tactics, like threatening you with a lawsuit or arrest, to frighten you into paying money over the phone.

A real IRS employee will never ask you to pay for taxes with a prepaid debit card or credit card. Nor will they ask for banking information over the phone.

Also, don't always trust your Caller ID. Scammers are clever and can spoof, or simulate, a Caller ID from the IRS.

If you think you might or know you owe taxes but are suspicious about a phone call, ask for the person's name, an employee badge number and their call back number. Then call 1-800-829-1040 and ask an IRS employee for clarification of your situation.

If you know you are up-to-date on your taxes, don't feel bad about hanging up. You do not need to talk further to that caller.

Suspicious letters

Sometimes, you might receive mail from someone claiming to be with the IRS. If you have any suspicions about the origins of the letter, there are ways you can verify it.

Search for your individual notice number on If your letter is legitimate, it should show up in the results and then you can follow the instructions in the letter to address your situation. If it doesn't show up in the results, it may be fake. Call 1-800-829-1040 to speak with an IRS employee.

Phishing emails

Scammers may also try to email you a phishing email meant to steal your person information. Keep in mind that the IRS will not email you for payment on taxes.

Scammers will use the same threatening language in an email that they may over the phone, but don't be intimidated. 

If you think you've gotten a phishing email, never reply to the message, never open any links or attachment and never give out any personal or financial information.

Forward the email to and then delete it.

Scam text messages

The IRS says to never reply to an unsolicited text message that appears to come from the IRS. Do not open any attachments or click on any links.

You can report the suspicious message by forwarding it to the IRS at 202-552-1226. Keep in mind that standard text messaging rates will apply. If you can, in a separate message, text the IRS the phone number that texted you to 202-552-1226. Then, delete the text.

More resources:

Identity protection tips

Identity Protection: Prevention, detection and victim assistance

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