Consumer Alert: Not all IRS mail is a fraud!

Consumer Alert: Not all IRS mail is a fraud!

(WOIO) - There are numerous warnings about crooks who have been calling pretending to be from the

. Be aware of a letter you might get from the agency. Although you'll want to respond, you could be scammed.

The notice is a 5071C letter. James Shepherd, CPA, 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 taxpayers may not trust the letter.

"We are dealing with clients all the time who are, unfortunately, receiving bogus phone calls and scam e-mails 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' 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 and experts say, keep in mind, the IRS will never e-mail you or call you about this letter. Even if you get the letter, before you respond, it's still a good idea to check with an expert to make sure it's legitimate.

"Many people are so used to all the scams out there, they may not know if the letter itself is a scam or not," Shepherd says.

Click here 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 actual 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 delay your refund.

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