Tax season is a prime time for phone scams. Fraudsters disguise themselves as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and tax preparation agencies to swindle you out of your money.
Scammers will send emails or call you claiming to represent the IRS to say you owe taxes. They are aggressive and use threats if you don’t pay them immediately. Callers may tell you your Social Security Number has been suspended and inform you that you need to confirm your number to reactivate it, or you may get a prerecorded message demanding a callback. Emails often invite you to click a fake link for information about your tax return or refund, sending you to a fake website that captures your personal information.
Tax preparation scammers promise a big tax refund by exaggerating deductions or credits and falsifying your income to increase your tax refund. In return, they require a percentage of your so-called gains. Once the IRS catches on, you are left to pay the consequences.
What you need to know
The IRS will never contact you via email, text, or social media. It’s also important to know that the IRS will never threaten to bring in law enforcement to have the taxpayer arrested for non-payment. If you owe taxes, the IRS will mail a notice via the U.S. Postal Service with payment due to the U.S. Treasury. They won’t ask for credit card information or demand that you pay with gift cards or a wire transfer.
Ways to protect yourself
- Never provide any information about yourself over the phone, even if the caller knows the last four digits of your Social Security Number.
- Report suspicious emails to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 or visit their website to verify if you owe taxes.
- Report calls to The Office of the Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) or call 800-366-4484.
- If you’ve become a victim of identity theft, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at IdentityTheft.gov.