You've heard about the fake IRS calls where someone calls, claims to be from the IRS and then demands money? Now the crooks are getting even trickier.
The response from the Internal Revenue Service is always that they don't call people and demand money.
"We never demand payment over the telephone," IRS spokesman Clay Sanford said. "We never require people to pay a certain way."
Now crooks are sending official-looking letters demanding money. Tax attorney Joel Crouch forwarded us one.
"The scammers heard about this and said, 'OK, let's find a letter we can send,'" Crouch said. "This is the new way they have contacted people."
The letters have what looks like an official IRS seal on them, but you can see some obvious signs it's fake if you look closely.
Looking at the letter, Crouch said there were typos and capitalization was wrong. The wording is awkward too. Crouch read the last line for us, "This amount is the amount for settlement for the year 2014 and do make sure your next year tax you have to file before 2017 March."
Crouch even called the number on the letter. The man on the other end wanted money immediately, which is not how the IRS would handle that.
"They're going to want you to enter into some sort of installment agreement and they're going to send you a file document to sign an agreement with them," he said. "They are not going to ask you to immediately send them a check of some kind in the mail."
That's a point that bears repeating, because it's something the phony phone calls and letters have in common. The people want payment immediately.
Here are some other things to look for:
- The IRS will send out something that looks like a form letter.
- There will be one letter for each tax year. They won't group several years into one.
- When you call the IRS, the person on the other end will identify themselves and can give you their IRS employee number.
- The IRS will not demand a moneygram or gift card as payment.
- Payment is never sent to a specific person.
- The IRS will never threaten you with arrest.
If you have any questions about a letter you've received, contact your tax professional or the IRS.