It can be challenging to tell if an IRS agent is legitimate, especially if they show up at your home or place of business and you feel flustered by the threat of IRS action. Giving away sensitive tax or identity information to a scammer can have devastating consequences. However, if the IRS actually is at your door, the situation needs to be taken seriously, and the issue resolved as soon as possible.
Keep reading for more information on how to identify real IRS agents and report scammers — and how S.H. Block Tax Services can help you with all your IRS concerns.
How to Identify an Authentic IRS Agent
Unfortunately, there is no foolproof way to identify a legitimate IRS agent. You can ask for identification, but it’s possible that scammers will have fake documentation. Besides regular IDs and business cards, there are two official types of IRS identifications you can request from an agent:
1. HSPD-12 Card: Also known as a Personal Identity Verification (PIV) card, this is a government identification card with information that you can verify with the IRS. You can find more information about checking the authenticity of a PIV card here.
2. Pocket Commission: Another identification card, the pocket commission should include a photo of the agent and information regarding their role within the IRS and specifying which actions they are qualified to carry out.
According to the IRS, you have the right to ask for and view an IRS agent’s credentials. If the IRS agent refuses to show you either identification cards, do not give them any personal or tax information. Contact the IRS directly to double-check if there is a legitimate issue or action against you.
When Might the IRS Pay Me an In-Person Visit?
Another way of knowing if the IRS is at your door is by understanding when the IRS might send an agent in-person. The IRS typically sends taxpayers notifications in the mail, but there are three instances when they might visit you in-person at your home or business.
1. Conducting Audits
An IRS agent might show up in-person to conduct an audit. However, they will always call to set up an appointment beforehand after first sending you a notification of the audit in the mail.
Scam Alert: If an IRS agent claims to be conducting an audit but you have not received any prior notification, do not provide sensitive information.
2. Collecting Tax Debts: If you have outstanding tax debts, the IRS may call or visit you unannounced in an effort to collect. They might also send a private debt collector — but only after serving you written notice.
Scam Alert: The IRS and private collectors will never ask you to make a payment on a gift card or prepaid debit card. They will only request immediate payments directly to the U.S. Treasury.
3. Investigating Criminal Behavior: If you are the subject of an IRS criminal investigation, a federal law enforcement agent might appear unannounced.
Scam Alert: Authentic federal law enforcement agents are investigative officers only and will not ask you to make payments.
RELATED ARTICLE: Can I Call the IRS? How to Contact the Internal Revenue Service
How Do I Report a Fraudulent IRS Agent?
The IRS has an email address specifically for reporting phishing scams. If you have received a fraudulent email, forward the email to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have received a suspicious phone call or in-person visit, include the following information in your email if possible:
- The phone number of the caller
- The number you were instructed to call back
- A summary of the discussion or alleged issue
- The employee name and badge number
- The time and date you received the call or visit
- The location and time zone in which you received the call or visit
If you have suspicions and want to double check if there are legitimate issues with your taxes or refund, you can call 800-829-1040 for more information.
Let S.H. Block Tax Services Handle the IRS on Your Behalf
Whether you’ve been contacted by a scammer or an authentic IRS agent, the tax attorneys at S.H. Block Tax Services can help with all your IRS concerns. If you have questions about a legitimate IRS action against you or are worried that you may have provided sensitive information to a scammer, please contact us today. Our tax experts have years of experience communicating with IRS representatives to resolve your tax issues and concerns.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.