Tax Scams

Scams/Fraud are at an all-time high during Tax Season

It is vital that you be alert to the possible signs of being scammed or having your identity stolen, and know what to do if you are a victim.

Taxpayers should be on the lookout for tax scams using the IRS name. While scams occur throughout the year, these schemes jump every year at tax time. Scams can be sophisticated and take many different forms. Scammers can be clever; they may have your full name, address, and/or part of your social security number leading you believe they are authentic.

Use caution when viewing e-mails and receiving telephone calls from people claiming to be the IRS. Remember that the IRS will always initiate contact with you by mail.

Keep in mind that scammers may also target taxpayers by pretending to be a state agency, such as the Wisconsin or Illinois Department of Revenue. Apply the same rules and judgement to contact from state agencies as you would the IRS.

Click here to review the steps you should take if you are a victim of identity theft.

Described below are the main types of scams you should be aware of.

 

IRS-Impersonation Telephone Scam

An aggressive and sophisticated phone scam targeting taxpayers has been making the rounds throughout the country. Callers claim to be employees of the IRS, but are not. These con artists can sound convincing when they call. They use fake names and bogus IRS identification badge numbers. They may know a lot about their targets, and they usually alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling. 

Victims are told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. If the victim refuses to cooperate, they are then threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license. In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting.

Or, victims may be told they have a refund due to try to trick them into sharing private information.

If the phone isn't answered, the scammers often leave an urgent callback request.

Note that the IRS will never: 1) call to demand immediate payment, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill; 2) demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe; 3) require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card; 4) ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone; or 5) threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.

 

Email Phishing Scam:
"Update your IRS e-file" or "Verify your details"

The emails appear to be from the IRS and include a link to a bogus web site intended to mirror the official IRS web site. These emails contain the direction “you are to update your IRS e-file immediately. The emails mention USA.gov and IRSgov (without a dot between "IRS" and "gov"), though notably, not IRS.gov (with a dot). Don't get scammed. These emails are not from the IRS.

Taxpayers who get these messages should not respond to the email or click on the links. Instead, they should forward the scam emails to the IRS at phishing@irs.gov.

 

Identity Theft Scams

The IRS has issued several consumer warnings about the fraudulent use of the IRS name or logo by scamsters trying to gain access to consumers financial information in order to steal their identity and assets. Scamsters will use the regular mail, telephone, fax or email to set up their victims. When identity theft takes place over the Internet (email), it is called phishing.

The IRS does not initiate taxpayer communications through email. Unsolicited email claiming to be from the IRS, or from an IRS-related component such as EFTPS, should be reported to the IRS at phishing@irs.gov.

Additionally, clicking on attachments to or links within an unsolicited email claiming to come from the IRS may download a malicious computer virus onto your computer.

If you have been a victim of identity theft, there are many important steps you need to take, including filing a report, monitoring your credit, and contacting your financial institutions. Click here to review the steps you should take if you are a victim of identity theft.

 

In Summary, Remember:

The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or social media channels to request personal or financial information. This includes requests for personal identification information, PIN numbers, passwords or similar access information for credit cards, banks or other financial accounts.

Additionally:

  • The IRS will never call you on the phone to demand immediate payment.
  • The IRS will never call about taxes owed without first mailing you a notice.
  • The IRS will never demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount the agency says you owe.
  • The IRS will never require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
  • The IRS will never ask for credit card or debit card numbers over the phone.
  • The IRS will never threaten to have you arrested for not paying.