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Knowing The Difference Between An IRS Impersonator And A True IRS Agent

On Behalf of | Apr 21, 2024 | Tax Fraud

Scammers often prey on people who are in a difficult position. For some scammers, impersonating Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agents is a way that they try to get money out of innocent victims who are afraid of the IRS.

Being able to tell the difference between an actual IRS agent and someone who’s impersonating an agent is critical. This can help people to avoid being scammed.

Request for identification

An authentic IRS agent will always carry two forms of official identification: a pocket commission and an HSPD-12 card. The HSPD-12 card is a government-wide standard for secure and reliable forms of identification for federal employees and contractors. You have the right to ask the agent to show these credentials. An IRS employee will willingly present these IDs and you can even request to take down the information and call a verified IRS number to confirm their identity before proceeding with any conversation.

Unannounced visits

While IRS agents can make unannounced visits, these are generally limited to a few specific circumstances, such as an audit or a criminal investigation. Most IRS contacts will begin with a letter in the mail. If someone shows up at your door without prior written communication, be extremely cautious. Verify the identity of the individual and the purpose of their visit by calling a trusted IRS number—not the number they provide.

Payment methods

The IRS will never demand immediate payment, ask for financial information over the phone or require payment with a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. If the person claiming to be an IRS agent asks for payment in these forms, it’s a major red flag. The IRS uses standard payment methods, such as checks mailed to the U.S. Treasury or electronic payments via the IRS website.

Threatening language

IRS agents are trained to act courteously and professionally. They won’t use threats of police arrest, deportation or loss of a business or driver’s license to intimidate taxpayers. If the individual uses aggressive or threatening language, it’s likely a scam.

Remember that you have specific rights when you’re dealing with the IRS. Even if you’re approached by a verified IRS agent, you can have your legal representative handle the matter. This is often beneficial because matters involving tax laws are often complex, so having someone familiar with the most current regulations may make it easier to protect your rights effectively.