Tax Season Scams
Our favorite time of the year is upon us again, tax season. This magical time brings stress and anxiety for many, while others thrive. However, you might be wondering, WHO thrives? Namely, scammers. In fact, each year we see new versions of tax scams abounding. What are some of these scams we have seen, and how can we identify such schemes? In this article we will break down some tricks of the scammers’ trade and learn to protect ourselves and our loved ones.

In Years Past

The IRS reported on a scam that they first saw in 2019 related to social security numbers. In it, scammers would claim to be able to suspend or cancel individuals’ social security numbers if the individual did not take the requested action. This tactic relies heavily on the use of fear. For example, scammers hope the target will be scared enough to return the robocalls and progress through the requested steps. No doubt, those requests involve the release of sensitive and personal information.
Tax Season Scams

Signs of a Scam

Scams with similar themes will surely flourish this season. Scammers may attempt to contact you via email, phone, social media, letter, and more. What are the telltale signs of a tax scam that we should be on the lookout for? It’s important to realize that the IRS will never call or email you. So, IF you receive a call, ask for the contact information and alleged name of the caller. Be sure to never give out financial or personal information over the phone. This includes, but is not limited to:

      • Types of credit cards
      • Whether you own a credit card
      • Types of debit cards
      • Whether you own a debit card
      • Account numbers
      • Financial institutions with which you hold an account or a line of credit

The IRS tells us on their website that they will never:

      • Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, iTunes gift card or wire transfer. The IRS does not use these methods for tax payments.
      • Ask a taxpayer to make a payment to a person or organization other than the U.S. Treasury.
      • Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have the taxpayer arrested for not paying.
      • Demand taxes be paid without giving the taxpayer the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.

How to Respond to the Scam

If you receive a call like this, how should you respond? Hang up immediately, and report the call to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. You can also report the caller ID and callback number to the IRS by sending it to [email protected] The subject of the email should be “IRS Phone Scam.” The call should also be reported to the Federal Trade Commission. When reporting it, you should add “IRS Phone Scam” in the notes.

If you believe you do owe taxes, you can view tax account information online at IRS.gov to see the actual amount owed and review your payment options. Do NOT call back the number provided by the scam call.

Educate and Protect

While many of you may be familiar with these types of scams, keep in mind that others may not be. This holds especially true with our older loved ones. These ones are often targets of various scam calls. We encourage you to share this article with them as a resource and guide for how to identify and respond to such calls as these. Together we can continue to educate ourselves and protect those around us.

Sources:
https://www.social-engineer.org/general-blog/lookout-for-tax-scams/
https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/taxpayers-should-be-on-the-lookout-for-new-version-of-ssn-scam
https://www.neighborsfcu.org/2022-irs-scams-and-how-to-avoid-them/
https://www.treasury.gov/tigta/reportcrime_misconduct.shtml
https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/#/?orgcode=IRS
https://www.irs.gov/payments/your-online-account

Images:
https://www.ft.com/content/1b1e61b3-9ee7-4784-a8d5-12a27d2c8c26
https://www.cnet.com/personal-finance/taxes/tax-season-has-begun-everything-to-know-before-you-file-your-2021-tax-return/