A client called me yesterday to say they received an e-mail from the IRS. The e-mail said my client was owed an additional $169 refund, and that my client would need to provide bank account information before the IRS would pay the refund.

My client wisely deleted the e-mail without opening any attachments or responding in any way.

The IRS never, ever sends e-mails to taxpayers. If you get an e-mail from the IRS … the IRS didn’t send it. It’s a phishing scam. 

In my client’s case, if she really had been owed an additional refund, the IRS would have sent a letter. Same goes for audits or requests for additional information. Those requests will come by regular mail, not e-mail. The IRS also will not send text messages to you.

In rare cases, you might get a call from the IRS, but that’s extremely rare. I’ve only had the IRS try calling (unsuccessfully) a client one time, and that was in a unique circumstance (this was my client going through the identity theft saga with the IRS).

The IRS does investigate phishing scams, so if you receive an e-mail claiming to be from the IRS, you can forward it on to the IRS’s “phishing department” at: phishing@irs.gov.

You can learn more about phishing scams involving taxes by visiting this page on the IRS website.