Common Tax Season Scams and How to Avoid Them
Tax season is underway, which unfortunately means that tax season scams are too. These cons are becoming increasingly sophisticated, and criminals are often armed with enough information about their victims to make their schemes seem believable. Four of the most common tactics to watch out for are listed below, along with information on how to spot these as scams.
A robocall claims law enforcement will suspend/cancel your Social Security number (SSN) in response to taxes owed. In reality, your SSN will never be suspended, and the IRS would only send unsolicited communication through the postal service or in person.
An email claiming to be from the IRS either reminds you to file your taxes or offers you information about your refund. In actuality, the IRS never sends unsolicited emails, nor will they contact you through text messaging or social media. They would also never proactively reach out to you to input personal information, such as your SSN or PIN.
A letter purported to be from the Bureau of Tax Enforcement, which may mention the IRS, demands immediate payment. Frequently, it will demand payment in the form of a gift card, prepaid debit card, or wire. However, the Bureau of Tax Enforcement does not exist. Additionally, official letters from the IRS will always have a seal and a letter or notice number. If you’re unsure, look up a phone number for the IRS online and call them to verify—do not call the number on the possibly fake letter.
Someone poses as a tax preparer and collects a taxpayer’s money to complete their return, but they won’t sign the return, making it appear the taxpayer did the work themselves. This leaves the taxpayer responsible for any errors made by the fraudulent preparer. The truth is that all legitimate tax preparers have a valid preparer tax identification number (PTIN) issued by the IRS and updated annually, and they will sign your return before submission.
The IRS provides significant information on how to spot, prevent, and report tax scams and identity theft. If you have any tax-related questions, or if you suspect you or a family member has fallen victim to one of these scams, please contact us immediately.