Apparently Not All “IRS” Mail is a Scam
As much I love USPS’s Informed Delivery service, it can sometimes cause me anguish. Specifically, there have now been two times when seeing what was headed to my mailbox led to several stressful hours. I should probably explain…
A few weeks ago, I saw that I had some piece of mail coming from the Internal Revenue Services. Following that initial panic, I looked a bit closer realized it actually resembled a check. The only problem is, I wasn’t expecting any sort of refund — in fact, as a business owner (technically), I pay my taxes quarterly. This left me with only one conclusion to come to: it was a scam.
After hours of wondering what sort of shenanigans the senders of this fake check were pulling, I opened up my check and found it to be incredibly detailed. For example, someone must have done their homework because the signature that read “Vona S. Robinson” is a real person who happens to work for the Bureau of the Fiscal Service. On top of that, by Googling images of real U.S. Treasury checks, I discovered that this one looked identical. Still, the check was for a whopping $6.14 — how were these scammers so confident that I’d bother cashing a check worth less than a McDonald’s Extra Value Meal?
I left the bogus check on my desk and mostly forgot about it until earlier this week when, once again, checking my Informed Delivery e-mail derailed my productivity for the next several hours. This time it looked like an actual letter and the IRS return address seemed legit. At least I didn’t cash that fake refund check though, right?
When my mail was delivered around 3:30 p.m. (I checked the box twice prior to that), I ripped open the letter filled with dread. But, instead of informing me that I was being audited or owed thousands of dollars, it simply explained that they had sent me a refund for $6 due to a “decrease in failure to pay the proper estimated tax penalty.” In other words, that mysterious check wasn’t a scam at all! Granted, I’m still not 100% sure what the check is for — and it is a bit concerning that they’re paying that much attention to me that they feel the need to pay up $6 — but I’ll still call it a win.
The moral of the story is, although it’s often a necessity to be on guard these days, not everything you encounter is a scam. Truth be told, I did realize after doing some research that the check was for real, but didn’t want to cash it until I was sure it wasn’t an error. It just goes to show you that sometimes it’s okay to take things at face value and accept that, on occasion, what glitters actually is gold.
Also published on Medium.