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IRS and Security Summit Partners Warn of New Unusual Mail Scam

The IRS has issued a warning to taxpayers about a new scam involving fraudulent mailings that falsely claim recipients are owed a refund.

The scam involves a cardboard envelope from a delivery service, containing a letter that displays the IRS masthead and misleading language regarding an “unclaimed refund.” The letter provides contact information and a phone number that does not belong to the IRS, along with a request for sensitive personal information such as detailed pictures of driver’s licenses. This information can be used by identity thieves to steal tax refunds and other financial data.

Highlighted below are details about this scam so tax practitioners can warn and/or provide advice to clients who may be susceptible.

Part of a larger trend

IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel emphasizes that this scam is part of a larger trend where identity thieves pose as the IRS in attempts to deceive individuals into providing valuable personal information. He advises people to be vigilant and watch out for red flags that indicate IRS scams, as they can come through various channels such as email, text, or special mailings.

Several warning signs

The Security Summit, a coalition between the IRS, state tax administrators, and the tax industry, continues to urge people to safeguard their personal information to prevent tax-related identity theft and similar scams. This particular scam exhibits several warning signs commonly seen in email or text-based schemes. What sets it apart is its attempt to trick recipients into emailing or phoning detailed personal information in order to steal valuable data.

  • The scam letter requests recipients to provide “Filing Information” for their refund, including a clear phone image of their driver’s license showing all four angles, taken in a well-lit location.
  • The letter proceeds to ask for more sensitive information such as cellphone number, bank routing details, Social Security number, and bank account type. It ends with a poorly worded warning about needing to provide the information to a filing agent to submit an unclaimed property claim.
  • The letter contains numerous warning signs, such as unusual punctuation, mixed fonts, and inaccuracies. For instance, it incorrectly states the deadline for filing tax refunds as October 17, whereas the actual deadline for those on extension for their 2022 tax returns is October 16.
  • Furthermore, the IRS deals with tax refunds, not “unclaimed property.”

Communications that impersonate legitimate organizations

The IRS and Security Summit partners regularly educate the public about common scams, including the annual IRS Dirty Dozen list. They emphasize that taxpayers and tax professionals should be cautious of fake communications that impersonate legitimate organizations in the tax and financial community, including the IRS and state agencies. These fraudulent messages often arrive as unsolicited emails or texts and aim to deceive victims into providing personal and financial information, leading to identity theft through methods like phishing and smishing.

It is important to note that the IRS never initiates contact with taxpayers via email, text, or social media regarding bills or tax refunds. Individuals should never click on unsolicited communications claiming to be from the IRS, as they may contain malware or ransomware.

Where to report scams

Taxpayers should report scams by sending the email or a copy of the text as an attachment to, including relevant details like caller ID, date, time, and time zone.

Reports of scams can also be made to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration or the Internet Crime Complaint Center. The IRS provides comprehensive information on reporting phishing and online scams on their website. Additionally, the Federal Communications Commission’s Smartphone Security Checker is a helpful tool to guard against mobile security threats.

Taxpayers are also advised to exercise caution with messages that seem to be from friends or family, as these accounts may have been compromised. To verify the sender’s identity, it is recommended to use another communication method, such as calling a known and accurate number rather than the one provided in the email or text.


Disclaimer: The information referenced in Tax School’s blog is accurate at the date of publication. You may contact if you have more up-to-date, supported information and we will create an addendum.

University of Illinois Tax School is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. All information in this site is provided “as is”, with no guarantee of completeness, accuracy, timeliness or of the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog and the information contained herein does not constitute tax client advice.

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