Who’s Knocking at Your Door? Tips to Know if It’s the Government or a Scam

IRS FraudThere are those in the world that thrive on cheating others out of money. Fraudulent scams are not a novel concept, but the methods used to perpetuate these schemes often change. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is attempting to reduce the risk of taxpayers falling victim to scams that target alleged tax debts with a new educational effort. Part of the effort involves letting taxpayers know what standard procedures are used by the IRS when attempting to collect on taxes.


How can I reduce the risk of becoming a victim of a tax scam?


Getting caught in a scam is frustrating, but some simple tips can help you to easily decipher if you are dealing with the IRS or with someone attempting to commit IRS fraud:


  • Tone of the conversation. This is often an easy way to determine if the contact is from the IRS or part of a scam. Any demeaning language or use of threats is a red flag that the individual making contact is not with the IRS.
  • Method of contact. The IRS most often contacts taxpayers through the United States Postal Office. It is unlikely (though not impossible) that the IRS would call or come directly to your door.
  • Payment request. Any request for immediate payment using a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer is a sign that the person contacting you is not with the IRS. The IRS requires payments go to the United States Treasury, not the person on the phone or at the door.


As noted above, it is not impossible that the IRS contact you by coming to your home or through use of a phone call. Visits from an agent are often scheduled or notification is sent through the mail. If an IRS agent does come knocking at your door, ask for identification. In these instances, the federal agent would provide two forms of documents: a pocket commission and HSPD-12 card. If the individual does not have them, it is likely wise to call the police.


What if the IRS contacts me?


Those who are navigating tax issues like a notification of an IRS audit or other tax issue should take such notification seriously. In these cases, it is wise to seek legal counsel. An experienced tax attorney can review your situation and help to better ensure your legal rights are protected.

Download our Tutorial on IRS Audits