It's tax season again. While U.S. workers are preparing to submit their annual tax forms, scammers are busy, too.
Your best weapon to combat tax scams is your common sense. If you are in doubt, contact the IRS or your state taxing authority to confirm.
Use caution with phone calls, texts, and social media messages
The IRS doesn't initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages, or social media channels to request personal or financial information. Their first contact will always be via a letter. Don't give any information to anyone contacting you via these other methods, and certainly don't send them any money.
File early so hackers will have more difficulty filing a phony tax return and claiming a refund in your name.
Beware of phishing
Phishing is a scam where a thief pretends to be a legitimate company and tries to collect your personal information, usually through email. Be careful about sharing personal information with someone who contacts you via email. Always take steps to verify identity before communicating with someone via email.
Protect your computer
Ensure your computer is protected by anti-virus software to make it tougher for hackers to access your personal information.
Be wary of phony charities
A growing number of tax scams are related to phony organizations soliciting help for victims of hurricanes and natural disasters.
Things the IRS will never do
- Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card, wire transfer, or person-to-person payment services such as Zelle, Paypal, or Venmo. Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law enforcement groups to have the taxpayer arrested for not paying.
- Demand that taxes be paid without allowing the taxpayer to question or appeal the amount owed.
- Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
Tips for safely e-filing taxes
- If you hire a third-party provider to file on your behalf, research and ensure they're trustworthy.
- Always protect sensitive accounts with strong, unique passphrases.
- Before submitting personal information, verify that the site you're on is legitimate and shows a padlock by the URL.
- When downloading tax documents, save them to a secure location where they can't easily end up in the wrong hands.
Reporting Tax Scams
- If you become aware of abusive tax scams, please report them to the appropriate contact below.
- Report all unsolicited emails claiming to be from the IRS to email@example.com.
- Report any monetary losses due to an IRS-related scam to the Treasury Inspector General Administration.
- Additionally, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission to make the information available to investigators.
- If you suspect an individual or tax preparer isn't following IRS guidelines, you can report them through the IRS website.
- Visit Identity Theft Central if you think someone stole your identity and used your Social Security number for employment or could use it to file a tax return.