Tax season is a busy time for accountants…and tax scammers. From phone and phishing schemes to identity theft, fraudsters use a variety of tactics to take advantage of the increased financial activity of tax season. Test your tax scam savvy by reviewing each of the statements below.
1. A real IRS agent will never call you to collect immediate payment via pre-loaded credit card or wire transfer.
Yes! Absolutely True! The IRS won't contact you by phone, email, text or social media to demand payment via a specific payment method. Usually, the IRS attempts to contact you by mail for taxes owed. They also won't demand payment without giving you a chance to appeal, and won't threaten to have you arrested or deported or have your license suspended. Never give someone claiming to be an IRS agent personal information (such as your Social Security, credit or debit card numbers) over the phone.
2. The IRS may email you to confirm tax data.
Nope. The IRS will never reach out by email.
Email tax scams, also called phishing scams, are a common method of tax fraud. Victims receive an email that's designed to appear official, asking about tax-related topics such as refund or filing status, requests to confirm personal information, or setting PINs. If victims click on a link within the email, they'll be routed to a site that imitates the appearance of IRS.gov. Here they may be asked to verify e-file information or enter information such as a Social Security Number or other personal details, which may be used to file a fraudulent tax return in their name. Remember—the IRS won't initiate contact with you via email to request personal information.
3. If you suspect an email is a scam, you should click on the link to make sure it's not real.
No! Never click on that suspicious link!
Sites can contain malware that can be used to access your files or track your keystrokes to collect information, making you vulnerable to future scams. Instead of clicking on links in a suspicious email, forward it without clicking on any links to the IRS' Report Phishing page.
4. Honest tax preparers don't promise refunds that are too good to be true.
Yes! Absolutely true!
Be suspicious of any tax preparer who promises refunds larger than you ever imagined, especially if you don't have to file a return. These scammers may charge you for bad advice or file a false return in your name.
5. Tax fraud is preventable.
Yes! Of course you can avoid tax fraud!
You can reduce your risk of fraud by taking the following steps:
- Use secure internet connections and install security software, including firewall and anti-virus protections.
- Use strong passwords for e-filing that use a variety of random characters, and update them every few months.
- Learn to spot common scams and techniques.
- Don't click on links or download attachments if you receive a suspicious email.
- If you suspect that a caller is an IRS agent impersonator, hang up.
- Protect your personal data by keeping tax files and your Social Security card in a secure place.
Criminals may change their tactics from time to time, but arming yourself with knowledge about how the IRS works and what to look for in a tax preparer can help you avoid becoming a victim. Remember—if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. For more information, visit the IRS' page on Tax Scams and Consumer Alerts.