Don’t Fall Victim to a New IRS Mail Scam

By Linda Bossard, EA

July 9, 2023

Our team at Grimbleby Coleman is always on alert for scams of all kinds, as they get more “creative” all the time.

A new threat to be aware of is a mail scam on look-alike IRS letterhead that indicates the taxpayer is owed a refund. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and its partners from the Security Summit — a group formed of IRS members, state tax administrators, and tax industry leaders — recently identified this as one of the latest fraudulent schemes: a deceptive mailing sent in a cardboard or manilla envelope through a delivery service.

While scams of this nature often include misleading contact information and phone numbers unrelated to the IRS, this particular scam takes things even further by requesting sensitive personal information from taxpayers. Additionally, the scammers ask for detailed photographs of driver’s licenses.

Fraudulent communications can arrive via email, text, or physical mailings. Remain vigilant and recognize the warning signs that indicate a scam. This new scam shares several telltale signs found in numerous email or text-based schemes.

Red Flags for Scams

Strangely worded requests: The fraudulent letter contains instructions to provide “Filing Information” for their refund, including peculiarly phrased requests such as “A Clear Phone of Your Driver’s License That Clearly Displays All Four (4) Angles, Taken in a Place with Good Lighting.”

Demands for sensitive information: Requests such as cellphone numbers, bank routing details, Social Security numbers, and bank account types, followed by poorly constructed warnings, may be present in scams.

Inconsistent fonts and inaccuracies: The most recent letter incorrectly states that the deadline for filing tax refunds is October 17, whereas the actual deadline for those on extension for their 2022 tax returns is October 16. Furthermore, the IRS handles tax refunds, not “unclaimed property.”

Remember that the IRS never initiates contact with taxpayers via email, text, or social media regarding bills or tax refunds. It is best practice to never click on any unsolicited communication claiming to be from the IRS; it may contain malware or ransomware designed to compromise systems and files.

Where to Report Scam Attempts

If encountered, tax-related phishing or smishing attempts should be reported by forwarding the email or attaching a copy of the text/SMS to phishing@irs.gov. The report should include relevant details such as the caller ID (email or phone number), date, time, time zone, and the number that received the message.

Report scams to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration or the Internet Crime Complaint Center. The Report Phishing and Online Scams page at IRS.gov provides complete details. The Federal Communications Commission’s Smartphone Security Checker is a useful tool against mobile security threats.

Get in Touch

GC urges taxpayers to follow news about scams on the IRS site, including the annual IRS Dirty Dozen list. Taxpayers and tax professionals should remain vigilant against deceptive communications from frequently accessed organizations within the tax and financial community. We are your tax ally for any questions, and our team is here to give you guidance. Contact us for answers.