IRS Text Message Scams: A Comprehensive Guide to Protect Yourself

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has issued a stern warning to taxpayers about a recent surge in IRS-themed text message scams designed to pilfer personal and financial information. These scams, known as “smishing,” have proliferated in recent months, prompting the IRS to urge vigilance and caution.

Modus Operandi of Smishing Scams

Smishing scams typically involve fraudulent text messages that mimic legitimate IRS communications, often offering enticing lures such as COVID-19 relief, tax refunds, or assistance with setting up an IRS online account. These messages often contain malicious links that, when clicked, lead to phishing websites designed to harvest sensitive information or infect devices with malware.

IRS Communication Practices

It is crucial to remember that the IRS does not initiate contact via text message or social media to request personal or financial information. The IRS typically communicates through the U.S. Postal Service, sending letters to taxpayers’ addresses on record.

Spotting Smishing Scams

To safeguard yourself from smishing scams, be wary of any unsolicited text messages that:

  • Mimic IRS branding: Scammers often use official-looking IRS logos or language to create an air of authenticity.
  • Offer too-good-to-be-true deals: Promises of substantial tax refunds or COVID-19 relief should raise red flags.
  • Request personal or financial information: Never divulge sensitive data such as Social Security numbers, bank account numbers, or passwords in response to text messages.
  • Contain suspicious links or phone numbers: Avoid clicking on unfamiliar links or calling unknown phone numbers provided in text messages.

Reporting Smishing Scams

If you receive a suspicious IRS-related text message, report it promptly to the IRS at [email protected]. Forwarding these messages to the IRS helps authorities track and disrupt these scams, protecting other taxpayers from falling victim.

Additional Protective Measures

In addition to reporting smishing scams, consider these proactive steps to safeguard your personal information:

  • Use strong passwords: Create robust passwords for all online accounts, including your IRS account.
  • Enable two-factor authentication: Add an extra layer of security to your accounts by requiring a second form of verification, such as a code sent to your phone, when logging in.
  • Be cautious of unsolicited emails and phone calls: Exercise the same vigilance with emails and phone calls as with text messages. Never provide personal or financial information unless you have initiated the contact and verified the recipient’s authenticity.
  • Educate yourself about IRS scams: Stay informed about the latest IRS scams by visiting the IRS website and subscribing to IRS e-newsletters.

Protecting yourself from smishing scams requires vigilance and awareness. By understanding the tactics employed by scammers, recognizing the telltale signs of fraudulent messages, and reporting suspicious activity to the IRS, you can safeguard your personal and financial information and contribute to the fight against these malicious schemes.

Here’s How To Avoid IRS Text Message Scams


Does IRS check text messages?

The IRS doesn’t initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or social media channels to request personal or financial information. Know the telltale signs of a scam and how to know if it’s really the IRS.

How do you know if the IRS is auditing you?

Remember, you will be contacted initially by mail. The IRS will provide all contact information and instructions in the letter you will receive. If we conduct your audit by mail, our letter will request additional information about certain items shown on the tax return such as income, expenses, and itemized deductions.

Does the IRS come to your house unannounced?

There are limited situations where unannounced visits will occur. These limited instances include service of summonses or subpoenas; and also sensitive enforcement activities involving the seizure of assets, especially those at risk of being placed beyond the reach of the government.

Will the IRS ever contact you by phone?

IRS employees will not: Call demanding an immediate payment. Call you without first sending a bill in the mail.

Does the IRS send text messages?

No. The IRS never reaches out to taxpayers via text message, the agency says. So you can feel good about automatically ignoring any text that purports to be from the IRS. Does the IRS email you? No, same deal. The IRS does not initiate conversations by email, nor does it use social media. Does the IRS call you?

Should I report a scam text to the IRS?

Reporting IRS-themed texts to the IRS allows security professionals to track and disrupt these scams. Individuals reporting scam texts to the IRS should include both the body of the message and the sender’s information in one email or text. Copying the actual text into an email is preferred. However, if necessary, screenshots can be sent.

Does the IRS send phishing messages?

In the latest activity, the scam texts often ask taxpayers to click a link where phishing websites will try to collect their information or potentially send malicious code onto their phones. The IRS does not send emails or text messages asking for personal or financial information or account numbers.

Does the IRS send emails asking for personal or financial information?

The IRS does not send emails or text messages asking for personal or financial information or account numbers. These messages should all be red flags for taxpayers. Beginning in the fall of 2020, the IRS observed an increase in reports of smishing scams requesting taxpayer personal and financial information.

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