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What Does an IRS Audit Letter Look Like? How to Spot Fake Letters

Coming home and receiving an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) audit letter can be nerve-wracking. However, it’s crucial to stay calm and verify the situation. After all, scammers tend to prey on people in distress, especially during tax season.

It’s worth noting that the IRS notifies you’re being audited through a letter delivered by the U.S. Postal Service. Legitimate IRS representatives do not establish contact with taxpayers by phone. 

If you’re still suspicious and believe that you’ve received a fake IRS letter, let this serve as your guide. This article will shed light on what a legitimate IRS letter looks like and how you can verify its authenticity.

What Does a Legitimate IRS Audit Letter Look Like?

Scammers have become more sophisticated nowadays, with technology playing a massive part in their schemes. They utilize software, malware, and other forms of technology to create letters that closely resemble actual IRS-issued audit letters.

However, it’s quite easy to spot a fake letter. By being informed and paying close attention to details, you can easily spot these inauthentic letters.

Legitimate IRS letters contain the following information:

  • Official IRS Logo
  • Notice Number (CP)
  • Letter Number (LTR)
  • The reason for contacting you 
  • What you need to do in response
  • Your rights as a taxpayer
  • Your truncated tax ID number
  • Your Social Security number
  • The specific tax year in question

Even after you’ve determined the letter is real, it’s still recommended to give the IRS a call and provide a notice and letter number to verify its authenticity.

7 Signs of a Fake IRS Letter

Now that we’ve discussed what an authentic IRS letter looks like, here are some telltale signs you’ve received a fraudulent letter.

  1. Missing the IRS logo

One of the easiest ways to spot a fake IRS letter is when the notice lacks the official IRS logo. The revenue service has made it a point to include the official seal in all its audit letters to avoid scammers conducting fraudulent schemes. 

However, as technology has advanced, even official seals can be manipulated. It’s best to inquire with the IRS for authentication.

  1. Not enclosed in an official government envelope

Another red flag is the lack of an official government envelope. All forms of IRS mail come to the recipient enclosed in these official government envelopes. Getting IRS letters in a standard envelope is a warning sign that you have probably received something fake.

  1. Has spelling and grammatical errors

You were probably sent a fake if you’ve received a supposed IRS letter with glaring spelling, grammar, capitalization, punctuation, and formatting errors. A U.S. federal agency like the IRS is known for its professionalism in communicating with taxpayers.

  1. Immediate demand for payment

While the IRS might issue multiple notices, the revenue service does not demand immediate payment. The IRS typically presents tax payment options for tax-related issues that need to be settled. A scammer is likely to send a letter with harsh or coercive language. 

  1. Notice that you’ve won something

The IRS is responsible for collections, tax-related issues, and inquiries. Receiving any notices that you’ve won something should immediately raise flags, as the IRS does not give money or prizes of any form. The only instance you will receive compensation from the IRS is when you are due for a tax refund.

  1. Threats of prison time

Tax evasion and other tax-related crimes are serious offenses that can land an individual in prison. However, it is not the job of the IRS to send taxpayers, or even possible offenders, such threatening letters. Letters that entail threats of prison time are never included in authentic IRS letters.

  1. Unusual payment methods and recipient

IRS-related payments are exclusively done through official IRS channels like the revenue agency’s website and authorized payment merchants. Simultaneously, check-issued payments should be addressed to the United States Department of Treasury. 

Receiving letters encouraging payers to pay through other methods and unauthorized recipients should raise alarms.

Separating the Real from the Fake

You can never be too careful nowadays. Even with tools getting more advanced, scammers still think of refined ways to fool taxpayers. Considering these criminals can even infiltrate IRS letters, it’s best to know the typical tactics they employ. Let this serve as your ultimate guide in spotting fake IRS letters and avoiding IRS-related schemes.

If you are faced with a tax problem and need expert tax negotiation services to help you settle the issue, reach out to us at Peace of Mind Tax Help. Our team is composed of leading experts in tax negotiation and mediation, and we can help you minimize your tax liability. Get peace of mind, and contact us today.

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