Mention the word IRS and everyone’s blood pressure tends to go up a bit. Unfortunately, thieves know this too and often use the IRS as a threat to get you to fall for their latest scam.

Every year the IRS mentions their dirty dozen tax scams and repeatedly tries to keep us all on alert. A review of recent alerts outlines some common traits of these scams. By being aware of them, you increase the chances of discovering the newest threat, even before anyone becomes a victim. Here are some common traits:

Personal information is always the target.

Scammers are always going to ask for personal information. This is typically your Social Security number, your age, address, and birth date.

Getting your ID is a bonus.

Thieves would love a copy of your passport or driver’s license. This ID is often required to prove your identity. So a common tax scam is to tell you that you have unclaimed refunds and must prove your ID to get the unclaimed money.

The more significant the threat, the more likely the scam.

Threatening arrest, levy of your bank accounts, or sending the sheriff or police to your residence or business are great ways to intimidate. The IRS does not work this way.

The wording doesn’t seem right.

If you see an IRS notice with title case or mixed fonts, or perhaps the margins don’t look right, these are all signals that the notice may be fraudulent.

Demands for payment.

Demands for payment of any kind over the phone or via email is not how payments to the IRS are made. All payments are paid to the U.S. Treasury. So that request for your credit card number is a clear scam attempt.

Your best defense against scams is to be wary and alert. When in doubt, go to and contact the agency along with your tax professional. This is the best way to get independent confirmation of any claims being made on your tax record.

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