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Tax-related Scams

Tax season is upon us. It is not only a busy time for taxpayers but also for cybercriminals. Tax-related identity scams occurs when someone uses your stolen personal information, including your Social Security number, to file a tax return claiming a fraudulent refund. Thousands of people have lost millions of dollars and their personal information to tax scams.

Awareness

Beware of unsolicited emails, text messages, social media posts or fake websites that prompt you to click on a link or to share valuable personal and financial information. Armed with this information, online thieves can swindle funds and/or commit identity theft. Unfamiliar links or attachments can also contain malware ‒ viruses, spyware and other unwanted software that is installed on your computer or mobile device without your consent. The IRS includes a “Dirty Dozen” recap of scams on its website, including tax preparer fraud, fake charities, and inflated refund claims. Check it out here: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/dirty-dozen

Beware of callers claiming to be IRS employees using fake names and phony ID numbers. They may ring you and insist that you owe money and that it must be paid as soon as possible through a gift card or wire service. If the call is not picked up, the scammers often leave an emergency callback request message. In reality,the IRS rarely calls taxpayers and initiates almost all contact via the U.S. Postal Service. For collection purposes the IRS may use authorized private collection agencies that are listed here.

Tax season security quick tips

File Early: If you file early, then you may avoid refund fraud as it gives criminals less time to take action. By filing first, your tax return will likely be processed first, and it’ll be the scammer, not you, who receives the IRS notice that a return has already been filed using your information.

Check Your Tax Preparer: In many states, there are few regulations on tax preparers. Unfortunately, this has led to an increase in fraudulent activities. When searching for a tax preparer you should research their background and ask for independent references you can check. Asking friends and family for names of the people who do their taxes is recommended.

Review your credit report for any suspicious activity (such as lines of credit opened without your knowledge). Free credit reports for all three major credit reporting bureau can be obtained at annualcreditreport.com.

 

For specific scams currently being used by cybercriminals  visit Tax Scams Alerts from the Internal Revenue Service. Also, please watch the below two video on U.S. mail tax scams and W-2 scams from the Internal Revenue Service to learn more about phishing scams related to tax season.