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Common Tax Scams

February 28, 2023

People lose money and personal information every year because of tax scams. First Western Trust encourages clients to be vigilant during tax season to avoid falling victim to all types of tax scams. Knowing the facts about how the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) contacts individuals is one of the best ways to avoid fraudulent schemes. With tax filing season underway, it is a prime time for identity thieves to use phone calls, text messaging, and email phishing scams.

Types of Tax Scams

Phone Call

Scam: Phone scams can come from individuals claiming to be a part of the IRS. These calls may seem legitimate as criminals can spoof caller ID numbers. Fraudsters on these calls often make threats of law-enforcement agency intervention, demand immediate payment with the use of a specific payment method, and/or ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

Fact: The IRS does not leave pre-recorded, urgent, or threatening messages. The IRS typically will mail a bill to anyone who owes the IRS money, and payments are only made to the U.S. Treasury and no other third parties.

Text Messaging

Scam: Text messaging scams are texts sent to mobile devices that often include links claiming to be IRS websites or other tax website tools.

Fact: The IRS does not use text messaging to discuss any tax information or tax issues outside of the use of IRS Secure Access.

Note: Never click on links or open attachments from unsolicited, suspicious, or unexpected text messages.


Scam: Email scams are unsolicited emails that can appear to be from the IRS or other programs related to the IRS and are fraudulent. These types of emails may ask for personal or financial information and include links or attachments that launch underlying software (virus, malware, spyware, etc.) leading to damage to computer files or data theft.

Fact: The IRS never reaches out to individuals or businesses by email requesting personal or financial information. Initial contact from the IRS is delivered by the United States Postal Service.

Note: Never click on links or open attachments from unsolicited, suspicious, or unexpected email messages.

The U.S. Postal Service is the main delivery method for IRS communication. The IRS will only reach out by telephone or contact people, in person, under very specific/unique circumstances. Additionally, email, text messages, or social media platforms are not used to communicate with taxpayers about tax debts, refunds, or other tax matters.

Red flags include immediate, urgent demands for payment with threats to have a law enforcement agency arrest for lack of payment. If you receive tax inquiries that appear to be from the IRS or other taxing authorities (state, local etc.), consult a tax professional.

For more information, refer to the IRS website listed below.
Source: IRS Information on Tax Scams

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