Tax season is scam season! Impersonating the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), scammers invent tens of thousands of excuses to contact you, in order to steal your money and personal information. Anyone can be a victim: make sure you are able to spot these tax scams!
Popular Tax Scams 2022
These are the top tax scams to watch out for this tax season.
1. Tax refund scams
Scam artists waste no time launching fake tax refund websites to exploit people. They have created copycat websites that look like legitimate government websites. In the first 3 months of 2022, we have already detected more than 135,842 fake websites. Below is an example:
To trick you into these fraudulent websites, the scammers will send you text messages or emails asking you to file your taxes, request refunds, or perform other tasks via the attached links. Once you’re on these fake IRS pagesyou run the risk of exposing personal information such as your home address, date of birth and individual tax identification number (ITIN).
Sample text: (irs): We recently noticed that you did not make your last tax deductions. Visit hxxps://resolve-irs[.]com/forms to fill out.
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2. Stimulus payment scam
Recently, we have seen phishing attempts using IRS economic impact payments as a hook. In this scam, you will be notified that your third round of COVID-19 economic impact payments are available, prompting you to claim it via the embedded button.
If you click on the button, you will be redirected to a fake IRS page and asked for personal information. Scammers will record the credentials you submit and use them to identity theft.
3. Robocall / Phone Scams: The IRS Taxpayer Advocate
Scammers claiming to be from the IRS Taxpayer Advocacy Service will contact you through phone calls or robocalls that will force you to call back.
They will claim there is a problem with your tax return. Then they ask for your credentials such as SSN, Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN), or Identity Protection PIN. With this information, they can file a false tax return on your behalf and deposit the so-called refund into your account.
In other cases, what they want is money – they claim you owe taxes or that a tax refund was a mistake. They will even threaten you with penalties and demand that you pay them via gift card or bank transfer.
Tax scams targeting tax professionals
Many people choose to hire a tax expert to handle tax filing procedures, but scammers even target tax professionals.
Impersonating tax software vendors, scammers send fake emails to tax preparers and falsely claim that they need to update their Tax Pro account to continue accessing the tax filing system. The link in these emails will lead to phishing websites that collect the login credentials of tax professionals.
Red flags for spotting an IRS tax scam
Always keep in mind that the The IRS will NEVER be:
- Call you without having previously informed you by email.
- Ask you to provide information such as the Identity Protection PIN.
- Require payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid card, gift card, or wire transfer.
- Stop you from questioning or appealing the amount they say you owe.
- Avoid showing their pocket commission and HSPD-12 card.
- Threatening to call law enforcement to have you arrested for nonpayment.
Tips to protect yourself from tax fraud
- Check the sender’s details. Hang up if you receive unexpected phone calls from the “IRS”.
- Protect your tax return with Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN) and never reveal your login credentials.
- Choose professional tax preparers with an IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). Check the credentials on the IRS webpage here.
- Verify your tax information through the IRS website or the number printed on the IRS billing notice (800-829-1040).
- Use Trend Micro Check to avoid fake IRS websites and phishing links.
- Install anti-malware to block phishing emails/websites and prevent malware downloads. Maximum Security and Trend Micro Mobile Security protect your devices from malicious apps, ransomware, unsafe Wi-Fi networks, and unsafe websites.
What happens if I am the victim of a tax scam?
The IRS recommends that those who believe their credentials have been compromised take the following steps:
- Individuals must respond immediately to any notice from the IRS. Call the number given.
- Taxpayers must complete IRS Form 14039 (Identity Theft Affidavit PDF) in case of tax scam or if the IRS asks them to do so. Individuals can find the form on IRS.gov, then print it and attach it to their paper return, as instructed.
- Victims of tax-related identity theft should continue to pay their taxes and file their taxes, even if they have to do it on paper.
- Taxpayers who have contacted the IRS about tax-related identity theft but have not found a solution should call specialized assistance at 800-908-4490.
Where can I report potential tax fraud?
Stay safe out there, people! Follow these guidelines and you will be well prepared in case of tax scam attempts. As always, if you found this article interesting and/or useful, please do so. TO SHARE with your friends and family to keep the online community safe and secure.