The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) continues to see an increase in collection scams in which scammers contact taxpayers and demand immediate payment for “taxes owed.” Here are some tips to help you determine if the person contacting you is truly an IRS employee:

In almost every situation, the IRS will first contact you with an official letter through the U.S Postal Service. In special circumstances, the IRS may sometimes make unannounced visits to your home or place of business, but the reason for the visit will almost always be made known to you from a previous letter. If an IRS representative visits you, he or she will always provide two forms of official credentials, and you have the right to see these credentials.

Even if the IRS really is contacting you for payment of taxes owed, they will never demand immediate payment by a specific method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card, or wire transfer. Legitimate IRS representatives will never request a payment to any source other than the U.S. Treasury. Generally, the IRS will have previously mailed you a bill if you actually owe taxes, and the agent will advise you of your rights as a taxpayer. IRS agents will never threaten to bring in local police, immigration officers, or any other law enforcement officers to have the taxpayer arrested.

If you are contacted by the IRS regarding your taxes, you can call us for advice, and we can help you determine if it is a legitimate contact. Before you make any payments to the IRS or anywhere else for “taxes owed,” please contact your tax adviser.