Tax Scam Warning Signs

As tax season arises, so do hundreds, if not thousands, of scammers.

Scammers will try to take advantage of taxpayers by pretending to be the IRS, asking for personal information, or even hacking your email.

Due to COVID-19, more taxpayers are receiving unemployment benefits opening the door for fraudsters to access this information, too. In order to avoid emergency situations like money or personal identification being stolen, there are some red flags to look out for when it comes to scammers.

Phone Calls
For years millions of dollars have been lost by taxpayers to scam artists. Many times this happens when someone calls a taxpayer telling them they are with the IRS and need payment immediately. By threatening drastic consequences, taxpayers give personal information in order to not cause trouble. Should someone call you from the IRS, ask for their name, title, and phone number and report the incident to the police. Do NOT give them ANY personal information.

Social Security Number
Many taxpayers receive notice that their social security number is in danger of being suspended or canceled. Do not give your social security number out to those you do not know or via an unsecured platform.

Fraudulent Preparers
Do NOT use a fly-by-night tax preparer for filing your taxes. Ensure your tax preparer has a valid business and extensive knowledge in filing returns. While your preparer may do the work, you are ultimately responsible for the information you submit to the IRS. One major warning sign is if your preparer is not willing to review the return with you.

Debit/Credit Card Information
The IRS will never request payment via debit card, wire transfer, or credit card. If you receive correspondence for tax payment via these methods, report the scammer.

Stimulus Check/COVID-related
With the second round of stimulus checks being issued to taxpayers comes another round of scams and schemes. Some scams include the following:

  • Texts requesting payment information
  • Emails or letters with keywords such as “Coronavirus”, “COVID”, “stimulus”, “payment” etc. requesting personal information
  • Fake or invalid investment opportunities
  • Fake charities or organizations requesting donations

What to do
In the event that you or someone you know is targeted for a scam, report it.

COVID-19 scams should be reported to the National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 1-866-720-5721 or submitted through an online complaint form found on justice.gov.

Report fraud or theft of Economic Impact Payments to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration online at tips.tigta.gov.

Forward to phishing@irs.gov any unsolicited emails or social media attempts to gather information from the IRS or a related organization.