IRS Contact – Real or Fraudulent?

Written by Stacia Coffey
on November 5, 2018

How Does the IRS Contact a Taxpayer?

Have you or someone you know been contacted by someone claiming to be the IRS demanding payment?  With so many scams and fraudulent activity out there, it can be difficult to tell when the actual IRS is contacting you regarding tax delinquencies and payment issues.  IRS employees will work with you to make sure you understand how to take care of delinquencies, schedule an appointment, or to discuss what is needed for an audit. Here’s some information on how the IRS will contact you:

Notice mailed via the US Postal Service

First, the initial contact from the IRS is usually a letter delivered via regular mail through the US Postal Service.   This is called a notice and they will write out exactly what is wrong, how to fix it, and a number you can call or address to write to if you need more information on what they are looking for.  It is your responsibility to take action when you receive a notice in the mail in order to avoid the situation getting worse.   The IRS will NOT email, text, or use other social media to contact you.

Phone Calls

Second, after the initial notice is mailed out, the IRS may call to confirm an appointment or to answer any questions you may have regarding a scheduled audit.   Calls will come from Revenue Officers, Revenue Agents and potentially Private Debt Collectors.  Revenue Officers will call to resolve delinquencies and to collect delinquent taxes or delinquent returns.  Revenue Agents will call after mailing the notice to confirm an appointment.   Finally, a Private Debt Collector may call if the IRS contacted you and you did not respond or remit payment.


Finally, the IRS will only begin making visits to you or your business after they have sent written notices or called you on the phone.  Depending upon your situation, these visits can be scheduled with you or may be unannounced if you are under investigation.   Revenue Officers may visit unannounced if there are taxes owed, delinquent tax returns, or if you have fallen behind on Payroll deposits.  Revenue Agents may visit after the mailed a notice and set an appointments, but can be unannounced to the home or office.

Ask for Credentials

When you are confronted by an IRS employee, always ask for credentials. It is your right to ask for identification and they should be more than willing to cooperate. The representatives will have two forms of credentials: a pocket commission that describes the specific type of authority and responsibilities, and a personal identity verification credential (PIV) that is basically an identification form saying they work for the government.

Paying Taxes

All tax payments are to the U.S. Treasury.  You should never use a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer to pay taxes.  The IRS provides specific guidelines on how to make a tax payment at If you receive a call from someone claiming they are with the IRS, you owe money, and you must pay right away, it is probably a scam.  They may ask if you are waiting on a refund and ask you to provide your bank account information over the phone.  Do not provide any information to this caller, it is a scam. There are plenty of warning signs when trying to determine whether you are being scammed.

In summary:

The IRS will send a written notice in the mail before calling or visiting. -The IRS will never demand a specific type of payment, or ask for credit card numbers over the phone -The IRS will never be hostile, demanding, threaten you with arrest by the local police, or lawsuits Always be on high alert when you receive any contact demanding Tax payments. The IRS has specific guidelines they follow, and if something does not seem right, call the IRS and ask questions.

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