On Your Side Alert: IRS letter not a scam

On Your Side Alert: IRS letter not a scam

We've warned you about crooks trying to get their hands on your money or private information by pretending to be with the IRS. We have another alert but this time it's the real deal. Many of you may be getting a letter from the Internal Revenue Service. Make sure you can tell a real from a fake.

The notice is a 5071C letter. James Shepherd, CPA with Verus Financial Partners, says if you get the letter, it means the IRS is trying to confirm your identity. The notice could be an indicator that your tax return has been compromised. With so many recent warnings about crooks misusing the agency's name, Shepherd says tax payers may not trust the letter. "We are dealing with clients all the time who are unfortunately receiving bogus phone calls and scam emails and scam texts where people are actually threatening to throw them in jail," he said.

Those threats are never true but the letter is the real thing. You will notice it doesn't ask for any personal information. There are two options for a response: you can visit the IRS's secure website or call the agency. Shepherd says the website method may work best. "Don't even try the phone call. The possibility of getting through to the IRS is almost impossible. I have been on hold before and I have forgotten why I called them," he said.

Crooks are always on the prowl, experts say keep in mind the IRS will never email you or call you about this letter. Even if you get the letter, before you respond, its still a good idea to check with an expert to make sure its legitimate. "Many people are so use to all the scams out there, they may not know if the letter itself is a scam or not," Shepherd says.

idverify.irs.gov is the site you will want to go to if you receive the letter. You will then likely have to fill out an IRS ID Theft form. "The fraudsters try to apply as early as possible and then the other people who are filing their actually returns will notice it will be rejected," Shepherd said. Take the steps now to protect your information. If you're a victim of tax ID theft -- it will take a while to resolve and will hold up your refund.

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