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The IRS doesn't initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or social media channels to request personal or financial information. This includes requests for PIN numbers, passwords or similar access information for credit cards, banks or other financial accounts.

What is phishing?

Phishing is a scam typically carried out through unsolicited email and/or websites that pose as legitimate sites and lure unsuspecting victims to provide personal and financial information.

For more information refer to the IRS website: How to Report and Identify Phishing, E-mail Scams and Bogus IRS Web Sites

The IRS does not initiate contact through email. Here are some samples of phishing email scams.

First sample of an actual IRS-related phishing email.

Second sample of an actual IRS-related phishing email.

Additional Information

IRS website: Protect Yourself from and Report Suspicious E-Mails or Phishing Schemes

Suspicious e-Mail/Phishing?

Phishing (as in 'fishing for information' and 'hooking' victims) is a scam where Internet fraudsters send email messages to trick unsuspecting victims into revealing personal and financial information that can be used to steal the victims' identity. Current scams include phony e-mails which claim to come from the IRS and which lure the victims into the scam by telling them that they are due a tax refund.

The IRS doesn't initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or social media channels to request personal or financial information. This includes requests for PIN numbers, passwords or similar access information for credit cards, banks or other financial accounts.

Report Phishing, email scams and bogus IRS Web sites.

Report all unsolicited email claiming to be from the IRS or an IRS-related function to phishing@irs.gov. Recent scams have used the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS) to attract potential victims. Also, if you've experienced any monetary losses due to an IRS-related incident, please report it to the Treasury Inspector General Administration (TIGTA) and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FCT) through their Complaint Assistant to make the information available to investigators.

Some phishing emails threaten a dire consequence if you don’t respond. The messages direct you to a website that looks just like a legitimate organization’s site — but it isn’t. It’s a bogus site whose sole purpose is to trick you into divulging your personal information so the operators can steal your identity and run up bills or commit crimes in your name.

The IRS can use the information, URLs and links in the suspicious emails you forward to trace the hosting website and alert authorities to help shut down the fraudulent sites.

If you receive an e-mail from someone claiming to be the IRS or directing you to an IRS site:

  • Do NOT reply
  • Do NOT open any attachments. Attachments may contain malicious code that will infect your computer
  • Do NOT click on any links. If you clicked on links in a suspicious e-mail or phishing Web site and entered confidential information, visit the IRS's Identity Theft and Your Tax Records page.

If you have received what you believe to be a phishing or fraudulent e-mail, forward the e-mail to; phishing@irs.gov

What to do if someone comes to your door to determine if they are actually from the IRS.

Here are eight things to know about in-person contacts from the IRS.

  • The IRS initiates most contacts through regular mail delivered by the United States Postal Service.
  • There are special circumstances when the IRS will come to a home or business. This includes: 
    • When a taxpayer has an overdue tax bill
    • When the IRS needs to secure a delinquent tax return or a delinquent employment tax payment
    • To tour a business as part of an audit
    • As part of a criminal investigation
  • Revenue officers are IRS employees who work cases that involve an amount owed by a taxpayer or a delinquent tax return. Generally, home or business visits are unannounced.
  • IRS revenue officers carry two forms of official identification.  Both forms of ID have serial numbers. Taxpayers can ask to see both IDs.
  • The IRS can assign certain cases to private debt collectors. The IRS does this only after giving written notice to the taxpayer and any appointed representative. Private collection agencies will never visit a taxpayer at their home or business.
  • The IRS will not ask that a taxpayer makes a payment to anyone other than the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
  • IRS employees conducting audits may call taxpayers to set up appointments, but not without having first notified them by mail. Therefore, by the time the IRS visits a taxpayer at home, the taxpayer would be well aware of the audit.
  • IRS criminal investigators may visit a taxpayer’s home or business unannounced while conducting an investigation. However, these are federal law enforcement agents and they will not demand any sort of payment.

For more information refer to the IRS website, If there is a knock on your door.


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