Tax season means more than filing your return in the digital age. Unfortunately, taxpayers need to be on high alert for an array of scams this time of year. The IRS has reported more than 13,000 victims have paid more than $63 million as a result of scams since 2013. Here’s a snapshot of the scams you should be on the lookout for.
- Phone Scams: Phone calls from criminals impersonating IRS agents threaten taxpayers with police arrest, deportation and license revocation, among other things. The IRS will never call to demand immediate payment, require you to use a specific payment for your taxes (like a prepaid debit card), or ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone. If you receive a call like this, hang up and visit the IRS website to report.
- Phishing: Consumers need to be on guard against fake emails or websites looking to steal personal information. Criminals pose as a person or organization you recognize, like the IRS, tax software provider or bank and seek information related to refunds, filing status personal information or PIN information. The IRS will not send you an email requesting personal information. For other organizations, follow practices as you normally would by not clicking links or opening attachments you weren’t expecting and reviewing emails for signs of an imposter like misspellings, unusual sender email address or poor grammar.
- Malware: Scam emails and websites can also infect your computer with malware by simply clicking into them. One such scheme asks people to update their IRS e-file immediately and directs users to a malware filled site. Malware can be used to track your computer activity, disable programs and damage your computer. Being alert before clicking a link or opening an email can help avoid malware altogether.
- Identity Theft: Filing taxes requires using a lot of important personal information making tax season a prime time for identity thieves. Avoiding identity theft this time of year doesn’t require any special steps beyond what you should already doing, including using strong, secure passwords online, using security software on your computer, not giving out your personal information to an incoming caller and not carrying your social security card around.
Learn more about tax scams at IRS.gov and be on alert to keep yourself safe this tax season.