Tax season is a profitable time of the year for fraudsters. Since they change their tactics often, it is important that taxpayers be on alert for some of the latest schemes being used to steal tax refunds and commit identity theft. Taxpayers can protect themselves and their personal information by knowing what to look for. Here are some of the latest ways scam artists are targeting taxpayers.
Calling claiming to be with the IRS
Fraudsters are making repeated phone calls claiming to be from the IRS—calls may be automated or from a live person. Beware, the callers can alter the number to make it look like the IRS is calling on caller ID. Below is an actual transcript of a robo-call.
“Your tax filings from the headquarters which will get expired in next 24 working hours and ones that get expired after that you will be taken under custody by the local cops as there are four serious allegations pressed on your name at this moment. We would request that you get back to us so that we can discuss about this case before taking any legal action against you.”
There are a few tell-tale signs that this call is a fake—the poor use of grammar, the threat to involve local authorities and the urgency of the request. If you receive an automated call or a call from a live person, hang up and do not call back. Do not give out any personal information.
Depositing fraudulent refunds into your bank account
One of the newest scams involves a complex scheme in which someone fraudulently files taxes in your name and has the refund deposited into your account. The scammers then call, pretending to be from the IRS and inform you that you received the refund in error and you need to return it immediately. Don’t spend the fraudulent deposit and don’t give it to anyone. Report the suspicious deposit to your bank and the IRS as soon as possible.
Sending phishing emails
Spam emails that appear to be from a tax preparer or the IRS typically request personal information for a tax form or claim a refund is waiting for you; they may even request your bank routing information or PIN number. These official looking emails often include an IRS logo or the logo of your professional tax preparer. These are all attempts to steal your identity. Remember, the IRS will never ask you for personal information in an email.
For more information and to report suspicious activity, or to learn how the IRS will or will not contact you, visit the IRS website.