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Tax Scams From A to 1040-EZ

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Tax season is upon us (make sure you’ve filed yours before the April 15th deadline!), and now more than ever, the refunds available to many taxpayers are tempting targets for scammers and fraudsters.

These criminals are constantly changing the methods they use to convince you to give them valuable information or steal money that is rightfully yours – but by reviewing the basic principles of these scams, you can be prepared to avoid getting swindled this year.

Things to Look Out For

They are calling you by phone, emailing you, texting you, or contacting you via social media.

The IRS never initiates contact with people by phone, email, text message, or social media networks. If you receive any communication from these channels claiming to be from the IRS, be cautious and do not reply. If the IRS needs to work with you, they will initiate that dialogue by direct mail.

Don’t reply to any communications you receive that aren’t direct email – and don’t click on any links or attachments for electronic communications. You could expose yourself to viruses or malware on your devices, potentially leading to other problems, including identity theft.

They are leaving pre-recorded voicemails, using urgent or threatening language (i.e.: you’ll be arrested, deported, have your driver’s license revoked, or similar threats)

The IRS doesn’t leave pre-recorded voice mails, and they cannot revoke your driver’s license, or have you arrested or deported. They also cannot threaten to immediately bring in local law enforcement.

Remember: scammers play on your fears and vulnerabilities to try to get you to act without thinking. Be calm, and be cautious, and if you have any questions about your tax status, contact the IRS directly.

They are asking for credit card or debit card numbers over the phone, or they want you to pay with gift cards, prepaid debit cards, or cryptocurrency.

The IRS won’t ask for your financial information over the phone, and they don’t use gift cards, prepaid debit cards, or cryptocurrency for tax payments – any tax bills from the IRS will be mailed to you, and any tax payment should only ever be made out to the U.S. Treasury, not a collections agency or other entity.

Common Types of Tax-Related Scams

Phishing Emails

Emails that claim to be from reputable sources, such as the IRS or your tax preparer, aiming to collect your personal or financial information.

  • Look for generic greetings, urgent and threatening language, unusual sender email addresses (not using the domain you would expect, like irs.gov, but instead something like irstaxes.com)
  • Protect yourself by being cautious with email attachments and links, and remain calm – you don’t need to correspond with the sender. If you have questions, contact the IRS directly.


Fake IRS Calls (Impersonation Scams)

Phone calls claiming to be from the IRS, threatening legal action or arrest if immediate payment isn’t made.

  • Hang up and do not engage with the phone caller.
  • If you have any questions about your tax status, contact the IRS directly.


Tax Preparer Fraud

Scammers offer their services to help prepare your taxes, promising larger refunds or lower taxes paid. They then use exceptions that don’t apply to your return, leave mistakes on your return, or even submit a fraudulent return under your name.

  • Make sure to check for reviews online using the BBB’s website.
  • Check your preparer’s credentials and qualifications; verify their Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN).
  • Avoid preparers who promise unusually high refunds. Those refunds may come from errors made in filing your taxes, or outright fraudulent activities, leading to potential legal trouble for those involved.
  • If you are filing your own taxes, use the actual IRS website.
  • Filing taxes as soon as possible lessens the likelihood that scammers can submit a false return using your information to collect any refunds you are owed.

Don't Be a Victim!

You need to know about credit union impersonation scams so you can avoid becoming a victim of these nefarious tactics.

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