Consumer Alert: Be on the lookout for fake IRS letters

Consumer Alert: IRS Letter Scams

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Tax season officially starts on January 29. And scammers are already busy. Every year I get complaints from folks who are getting fake IRS letters.

A fake IRS letter always says you have to respond right now or something terrible will happen. If you owe Uncle Sam, the IRS always sends several letters and will give you several options to pay.

Here are some signs that an IRS letter is a scam:

  • It demands immediate payment.
  • It demands payment by gift card, wire transfer, or a payment app.
  • It has a missing logo or the wrong logo.
  • It doesn’t have a shortened version of your social security number in the right-hand corner.
  • The letter has grammatical mistakes or odd sentence structure.

Here’s what to look for in a real IRS letter:

  • There will always be the IRS logo in the left corner.
  • The letter will always be from the Department of the Treasury.
  • Every notice has a code, usually in the upper right-hand corner, that starts with CP or LTR.
  • Beneath that will be a truncated version of your social security number.
  • The instructions from the IRS will be very clear about what you need to do next.

IRS impersonation scams take many forms this time of year. You may get a phone call or email. It’s a scam. The IRS never initiates contact with you by phone or email. And if you get a letter that looks suspicious, never call the number in the letter. Instead, call the IRS directly at 1-800-829-1040.