What to do When You Get a Fake IRS Letter

written by Drew O. Mark
reviewed by cinnamon
January 3, 2023

It’s important to be cautious when it comes to any communication claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Scammers often try to impersonate an IRS agent by sending a fake IRS letter. They hope to obtain sensitive information or money from individuals.

If you have any doubts about the validity of an IRS letter, verify its authenticity before taking any action. If you indeed determine that you received a fake IRS letter, do not respond to it. Most importantly, do not provide any personal or financial information.

Fake IRS Letter vs. Real IRS Letter

Characteristics of Real IRS Letters

To spot a real IRS letter, you should look for the following characteristics:

  • Official IRS logo; includes a stylized eagle with “Internal Revenue Service” written below it.
  • Official letterhead that includes the IRS address and contact information.
  • It will have your specific address and your personal information, such as your name and address.
  • Statement of a specific reason why they sent it and may include a reference number or other identifying information.
  • Instructions for how to respond or take action, if necessary.

If you receive a letter that does not have these characteristics, it may be a scam and you should exercise caution.

Characteristics of Fake IRS Letters

There are several different types of tax scam notices. It’s impossible to predict which fake IRS letter you might get, but here are some common characteristics to watch out for:

  • Claims that you owe taxes but you’re unaware of any tax debt.
  • Immediate payment demands, often through a prepaid debit card, gift card, or wire transfer.
  • Threats of arrest, deportation, or other legal action if you do not pay.
  • Grammatical errors or unusual language.
  • The letter is not addressed to you personally, or it is addressed to the wrong person.

It’s important to remember that the IRS will never threaten you with immediate arrest or demand payment using a specific payment method. If you receive a letter that you think could be a scam, you can contact the IRS directly to verify its authenticity.

Evaluate your tax situation

By evaluating your tax situation, you can identify areas where you may be able to reduce your tax burden and make informed decisions about your financial future.

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IRS Impersonators and Other Scams

The IRS initiates contact with taxpayers through various methods, including by mail, phone, and in-person visits. However, the specific method of contact will depend on the purpose of the interaction and the individual circumstances of the taxpayer.

If the IRS needs to contact a taxpayer about a specific issue, such as an outstanding tax debt, they will generally send a letter through the mail. This letter will explain the issue and provide information on how to resolve it.

Therefore, it’s critical to be able to identify a fake IRS letter.

In some cases, the IRS may also initiate contact by phone. This could be to request additional information or to discuss a specific issue.

In rare cases, the IRS may initiate contact through an in-person visit. This is usually done in cases where the IRS needs to verify information in person or where a significant tax debt must be resolved.

Regardless of their contact, you should’ve received a letter from the IRS before they use any other contact message. For example, receiving a phone call or an email instead of a letter is a scam.

It’s important to note that the IRS will never initiate contact with a taxpayer through email, text message, or social media first. If you receive a message from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for personal or financial information, it is likely a scam.

Signs you’re dealing with an IRS scammer:

There are several signs that you may be dealing with an IRS scammer.

  1. The IRS will never contact you by phone or email to demand immediate payment or request personal or financial information.
  2. Scammers may threaten you with arrest or legal action if you do not pay immediately. The IRS does not threaten taxpayers with arrest or legal action for not paying. This kind of threat may or may not be in a fake IRS letter.
  3. Scammers may demand that you pay with a prepaid debit card or wire transfer. The IRS does not accept payment in these forms.

“A letter asking you to make out a check to the IRS is a scam,” say Investopedia. “A real payment to the IRS must be made out to “United States Treasury.”

  1. Scammers may ask you to provide sensitive personal information, such as your Social Security number or bank account information. The IRS will not ask for this information over the phone or by email.
  2. They leave a prerecorded voicemail. Human IRS agents may reach out to you via phone for other reasons, but they will never leave a prerecorded message on your voicemail.
  3. A request to fill out a form that you can’t find on the IRS website. “If the type of notice received doesn’t show up on the list, it’s probably not legit,” says Nerdwallet.

What to do When You Get a Fake IRS Letter

If you’ve read this far, you’ve taken the first step. You have the knowledge you need to identify a real IRS letter vs. a fake IRS letter. The second step is to carefully review the document for authenticity.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does it have the official IRS logo on official letterhead stationery?
  • Can you find your personal information on the letter (i.e., your name and address)
  • Is there a reference number on the letter?

If all the above are present, go to the IRS website and search for the form number.

Finally, if you’re still not sure whether the letter is a scam, get help from an experienced tax professional. If you determine that the letter is indeed fake, report it to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 1-800-366-4484 or online at

Need Help?

If you’ve done everything we discussed above and you’re still not sure, you’re not alone. IRS scam artists have been increasingly more sophisticated over the last several years. Most importantly, do not send any payments until you know for sure.

If you need help identifying a fake IRS letter, contact Advanced Tax Team. We’ve been in the business of working with the IRS for decades. We offer a free consultation with no strings attached.

Our friendly staff will gladly help to determine whether you have a real balance with the IRS. We’ll also review your options free of charge. Give us a call today at 877.959.0975 and sleep better tonight.


  1. “Avoid Scams: Know the Facts on How the IRS Contacts Taxpayers.” Internal Revenue Service,
  2. Fontinelle, Amy. “Know the Sneakiest IRS SCAMS.” Investopedia, Investopedia, 23 Sept. 2022,
  3. “Here’s How the IRS Contacts Taxpayers.” Internal Revenue Service,
  4. Parys, Sabrina. “Latest IRS Scams: How to Spot Them and Fight Back.” NerdWallet,
  5. “Tax Scams / Consumer Alerts: Internal Revenue Service.” Tax Scams / Consumer Alerts | Internal Revenue Service,

Drew O. Mark

Drew O. Mark, a tax attorney, draws on a lifetime of financial insight to guide individuals through the labyrinth of taxation. Raised by a financial attorney and a tax consultant, Drew's destiny was woven with fiscal expertise. As he stepped into adulthood, his path inevitably led him to follow in his mother’s footsteps. He became a tax attorney himself. With a profound understanding of the nuances within the tax landscape, Drew's true passion emerges in empowering people to navigate their intricate finances with assurance. Through his writing, he transforms convoluted tax jargon into comprehensible advice, enabling others to confidently maneuver their economic positions within the bounds of the tax system.
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