Tax Scams and Identity Theft

With tax season quickly approaching, it is important to be aware of the following, most commonly used tax scams:

  • Phone Calls from someone claiming to be an IRS agent that accuse victims of owing back taxes and demand them to send money. Often, the scammer will leave urgent and rude voicemails. Fraudsters will also enable call-spoofing technology to make it appear that the call actually originated from the IRS on caller ID.
  • Email Messages that appear to be from the IRS that attempt to lure victims into opening malicious attachments, clicking on malicious links or sending personal information or money to fraudsters. Scammers also target people that use tax preparation software by emailing malware-infected attachments disguised as tax software updates or account alerts to try to gain access to a victim’s tax files or login credentials.
  • Fake Websites designed to look like a legitimate IRS or tax preparation site in an attempt to fool victims into giving out personal and financial information through the use of incorrect contact information or login fields on spoofed sites.

To prevent yourself from falling victim to these tactics, remember the following:

  • If you owe taxes, the IRS will always send a bill through the mail. They will never call or email you and demand payment or require that you pay your bill using wire transfers or prepaid debit cards. The IRS will also never ask for your credit card or bank account numbers over the phone.
  • The IRS will never threaten to have you arrested if you do not pay immediately.
  • You should never give out personal information over the phone or email, no matter what actions the caller or sender threatens to take.

If you believe you have been a victim of tax-related identity theft, contact the IRS directly at 1-800-829-1040. An IRS representative will walk you through procedures for verifying your identity and rectifying the situation. You can also download Form 14039 from the IRS website and submit it if you believe you are a victim of identity theft. You can also use the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s online reporting tool  and the Federal Trade Commission’s Complaint Assistant to report the incident. Consider taking extra precautions like monitoring or freezing your credit if you think criminals are in possession of your Personal Identifiable Information. If you feel threatened, contact local law enforcement.