The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is sounding the alarm on a new method being employed by scammers to obtain personal information. This sophisticated tactic involves imitating IRS mailings, further muddying the waters for everyday citizens who frequently receive genuine communications from the IRS. Here’s what sets this situation apart: While the IRS routinely sends mail to taxpayers, officials have identified specific traits that differentiate these fraudulent letters from legitimate ones.
Here’s what sets this situation apart: While the IRS routinely sends mail to taxpayers, officials have identified specific traits that differentiate these fraudulent letters from legitimate ones. They’re urging the public to exercise caution and learn how to recognize these signs. They’re urging the public to exercise caution and learn how to recognize these signs.
How to Recognize and Protect Against the Latest IRS Mail Scam
This alert has been issued by the Security Summit, a coalition comprising the IRS, state tax administrators, and members of the tax industry. Sadly, many have already been ensnared by this deceptive scheme, which is being characterized as a part of an ongoing effort by identity thieves. In the words of IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel, this is merely “the newest link in a chain of attempts by scammers pretending to be the IRS with the aim of duping individuals into surrendering valuable personal information, all with the goal of stealing identities and assets, including tax refunds.”
The scam’s specifics are highly detailed. The fake letter arrives in a cardboard envelope, complete with an IRS masthead, and falsely claims to relate to an unclaimed refund. From there, the scammers demand personal data, such as driver’s license photos, banking details, social security numbers, and even cell phone numbers – information that the legitimate IRS has clearly stated it would never request.
The fraudulent letter may contain strange requests and awkward language, such as a demand for “A Clear [Photo] of Your Driver’s License That Clearly Displays All Four (4) Angles, Taken in a Place with Good Lighting.” These inconsistencies serve as red flags for those paying attention.
How to Respond to Suspicious IRS Letters and Protect Your Financial Security
IRS spokesperson Raphael Tulino has urged consumers to be aware of these signs, emphasizing that a genuine IRS letter will appear professional and contain all expected information, without any of the poor punctuation or grammar found in the scam letter.
The key takeaway, according to Tulino, is that “the IRS does not initiate contact to request personal, sensitive information. That’s not how we conduct business.”
To protect oneself from this fraud, recipients of suspicious letters should refrain from calling any phone numbers listed on the document. Instead, inquiries should be directed to the official IRS phone numbers available on the IRS website. Additionally, for those wishing to check their refund status, the IRS website provides this information, or it can be obtained by calling the agency directly.
In an era where technology often leads the way in scams, this reminds us that traditional methods, like mail fraud, remain a significant threat. By staying informed and vigilant, citizens can protect themselves from these malicious attempts to breach their privacy and financial security. The collaboration between authorities like the IRS and the public is essential to combatting these ever-evolving tactics.