18 January 2024

How to Recognize a Fake Email from the IRS

By Ronald Smith

Today, I want to share some tips with you on how to tell if an email you receive is a scam pretending to be from the IRS. It’s important to be cautious and protect yourself from falling victim to these fraudulent messages.

1. Check the sender’s email address: The first thing I do when I receive an email that claims to be from the IRS is to carefully examine the sender’s email address. The IRS will always use official email addresses ending in @irs.gov. If the sender’s email address looks suspicious or doesn’t end in @irs.gov, it’s likely a scam. Remember, the IRS will never use personal email addresses or ask for personal information via email.

2. Be wary of urgent language: Scammers often use urgent and intimidating language to create panic and pressure you into taking immediate action. If the email contains phrases like immediate response required or you will face legal consequences, it should raise a red flag. The IRS doesn’t send threatening emails or demand immediate action without giving you proper time to respond.

3. Watch out for generic greetings: Legitimate emails from the IRS will address you by your name. If an email starts with a generic greeting like Dear Taxpayer or To whom it may concern, it’s likely a scam. The IRS has your personal information and will use it to address you directly.

4. Be cautious of suspicious attachments or links: Fake IRS emails often contain attachments or links that you are asked to click on. These attachments or links may contain malware or direct you to phishing websites that are designed to steal your personal information. If you’re uncertain about an attachment or link, it’s best not to open it or click on it. Reach out to the IRS directly to verify the legitimacy of the email.

5. Trust your instincts: It’s important to listen to your gut feeling. If something feels off or too good to be true, it probably is. Scammers are getting more sophisticated, but your intuition can still be a powerful tool in spotting fraudulent emails. If you have any doubts about an email’s authenticity, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Remember, the IRS will never ask for personal information, such as social security numbers or banking details, through email. If you receive a suspicious email claiming to be from the IRS, report it to the IRS immediately by forwarding it to [email protected].

Stay vigilant and protect yourself from these scams. By following these guidelines, you’ll be better equipped to recognize and avoid falling for fake emails pretending to be from the IRS.

How to Recognize a Fake Email from the IRS

It’s that time of year again – tax season! But unfortunately, it’s also the time when those sneaky scammers come out to play.

During this period, scammers and spammers like to target people like you who are filing their taxes, as well as tax preparers and small business owners. They use all sorts of tricks, like making bogus phone calls and sending fake emails that claim to be from the IRS.

Take a look at the email scam shown above. It looks like it’s from the IRS, right? Well, not quite. If you look closely, you’ll see that the email address it came from is actually fake. It’s not really from the IRS at all.

But don’t worry, there’s good news! Google Apps mail and Gmail have a fantastic feature – awesome spam filtering. This means that most of these scam emails will never even make it to your inbox.

So, guess what happened? I got this email in my spam folder, and you won’t believe what Google did. They actually added this bright red label warning right on top, telling me to be careful with the message. Apparently, similar messages were used to steal people’s personal information. Yikes, right?

The Warning That Caught my Eye

Be careful with this message. Similar messages were used to steal people’s personal information. Unless you trust the sender, don’t click links or reply with personal information.

But, let’s be real, even without the red alert, this message screams fake. I mean, it has five clear signs that it’s a scam.

Now, here’s how I figured out it was one of those phony IRS email scams:

First Clue: It’s an Email!

Okay, seriously, think about it. When was the last time the IRS sent you an email? Yeah, that’s what I thought. The fact that this so-called IRS communication landed in my inbox as an email raises some major red flags. And I’m not the only one who thinks so. According to an advisory from the IRS last February, they specifically mentioned that they don’t send official emails.

It’s important to remember that the IRS doesn’t usually contact taxpayers through email to ask for personal or financial information. This applies to all electronic communication methods, like text messages and social media.

If the IRS needs information from you, they will reach out through the mail. You can expect an official-looking envelope when they do.

Receiving an unexpected email from the IRS is highly unlikely.

Be cautious of fake return addresses. Sometimes, an email may seem like it’s from one sender, but it’s actually sent by a spammer. Take a look at the email header information to find out who really sent the message. You can learn how to check email header information here. In this case, the email came from a domain named ‘enta.net’.

Hey there, listen up! I’ve got an important tip for you. If you get an email that doesn’t come from the IRS.gov domain, then guess what? It’s not a real message from the IRS!

Looks unprofessional and has typos

Have you ever seen a message with tons of mistakes? Well, we found one that had so many typos, we stopped counting after 10! Not only that, but the message itself looks messy, with different fonts all over the place.

It’s obvious that this email was put together in a hurry. I highly doubt the IRS would send something so unprofessional with so many errors.

Unclear or wrong wording

The IRS is usually really precise when it comes to things like form numbers, tax code sections, and tax return processes.

A Sneaky Request for Confidential Information

Gotcha! Finally, we’re getting to the real reason behind this message.

The sender of this email wants something from you.

These kinds of emails are often called phishing emails. The person behind them is trying to trick you into giving away your private information.

If you make the mistake of sharing your information, the sender will use it to steal your identity, empty your bank account, or even snatch your tax refund. If you work as a tax preparer, the scammer might also access your clients’ information and put you in deep trouble for breaching data security.

Remember: never click on any links in a suspicious IRS message. And never download or open any attachments that come with a suspicious IRS message.

What to Do if You Get an Email from the IRS That Looks Suspicious

First and foremost: Don’t let yourself be tricked. Stay skeptical.

Here’s another important thing: Teach your team, even if they work online. It’s crucial for them to be just as cautious and informed as you are.

There’s one more rule you should follow: Report the scam. The IRS has made it possible for the public to report suspected phishing emails. All you have to do is forward the suspicious message to: [email protected].

If you want to know more about tax scams involving the IRS, check out the following resources: