12 Threatening Tax Scams the IRS Urges Consumers to Watch Out For

Tax scams are common. Everyone has to pay taxes, and people looking to steal your money or information will use that process to their advantage to take what they can. They will lie to you, attempt to intercept your information, or even pose as IRS agents. It’s important that you understand what kind of scams are out there so that you can protect yourself if you are ever faced with one of them.

Here is a list of the “Dirty Dozen” tax scams that the IRS has issued for this past year:

12 Threatening Tax Scams the IRS Urges Consumers to Watch Out For

1. Fake Charities

Giving to charity is a great way to score deductions on your taxes (while also helping out a worthy cause). Scammers know that some people are looking to donate at the end of the tax year so that they can bring down their tax obligation somewhat. They will reach out through telephone, email, or even social media to collection donations for seemingly legitimate charities.

It is important that you donate only to charities that are nationally known or that have a well-established reputation. Do your research before giving your money or your credit card details to any organization.

2. Phishing

Many scammers will contact you through email pretending to be the IRS or an agency that will help you with your taxes. They may claim that you need to pay, or they may claim to be offering you a refund or a stimulus. Their real goal is to steal your information, whether that is personal identifying details or financial information.

Know that the IRS will never contact you by email about what you are owe or about your refund. They will always contact you through more official means, such as an official letter.

3. Vishing

Vishing, or voice phishing, occurs when someone calls you and pretends to be an agent of the IRS. They may threaten or harass you, claiming that you owe money or that you are facing prosecution. Again, they are trying to steal your information.

A legitimate representative of the IRS will never threaten you, and multiple points of contact will be made, usually by mail first.

4. Social Media Scams

Social media offers a way for people to connect all over the world. Frequently, people share a lot of personal information on social media, and scammers will use that to their advantage. They may use your personal information to claim your refund check or even your stimulus check. Be mindful of what you share on social media, and do not click any links sent to you by people you don’t know.

5. Mail Theft

You may be sent a physical check to your address, either for your tax refund or your economic stimulus. Scammers may steal these right out of your mail and cash them. You must be careful that you watch your mail. If you have a loved one in a nursing or assisted living facility, you should also watch out for them that unethical workers in these facilities, or even other residents, do not steal them.

6. Refund Theft

Scammers will look for whatever way they can to steal your personal information so that they can file a return on your behalf and collect your refund payment or economic stimulus payment. They might hack your email, intercept your information online, or use one of the previously mentioned strategies.

You should safeguard your personal information carefully, and you should contact the IRS immediately if you belief you were the victim of identify theft.

7. Senior Scams

Seniors are vulnerable to scammers, in particular. Some people who are close to elderly people may take advantage of that relationship to steal their identity or their personal information. Some may try to take their benefits or cash their checks. In other cases, seniors may be vulnerable because of their missteps with technology, such as oversharing on social media.

If you have an elderly person in your life, it’s important for you to look out for them and watch for signs of financial abuse or identity theft.

8. Non-Native Speaker Scams

If you don’t know the language natively, it may be easier for scammers to confuse or mislead you. Some scammers may try to talk in a confusing way, and others may outright threaten or harass the person – particularly if they are an immigrant.

Again, look out for the people in your life who are not native speakers. If you are the victim of such attempts yourself, hold your ground and talk to a professional if you are ever in doubt.

9. Ghost Preparers

Around tax time, you’ll see a lot of signage from tax preparers offering big refunds, even though they’ve never seen your tax information. You talk to these people, and they promise you the world. But what they really do is file a fraudulent tax return on your behalf – and most don’t even sign it. You are left on the hook, and you could face big penalties or even criminal prosecution.

Only hire a trusted and reputable tax professional to prepare your taxes. And no that you are always responsible for what’s on your return, no matter who prepares it.

10. “Offer in Compromise” Companies

You may owe big tax debts, and you may be worried about how you are ever going to pay them. Some unscrupulous companies will promise to get you an “offer in compromise,” which is a settlement offer for your debt with the IRS. The problem is that these unscrupulous companies make promises that they can’t be guaranteed to keep. Also, many taxpayers can apply for their own offer in compromise without any help. If you do need help making the application, hire only a reputable Chandler tax lawyer or other professional.

11. Fake Repayments

Some scammers will steal your identity, file your return, and have the money deposited into their own account. But that creates a trail. To get around that, some scammers will steal your identity, file your return, and have the money deposited into your bank account. Then they’ll call you pretending to be an IRS agent and claim that the payment was made in error and that you must refund it. They’ll then tell you to refund it by buying specific gift cards.

Know that an IRS agent will never ask you to buy gift cards to return a payment, nor will any direct payment ever be requested. You will also be contacted through direct channels and instructed to pay through direct channels.

12. Payroll Scams

Scammers can also target payroll departments. They may pose as employees to ask for direct deposit information to be changed to divert tax refunds or even payroll deposits. Or they may try to scam the business itself to get a fake invoice paid or to set up a fake wire transfer.

Always be mindful of any information or requests you receive around tax time. If you suspect that you have been the victim of a scam – or an attempted scam – you should report it to the IRS immediately.

If you are the victim of a scam, you may not only be out a lot of money, but you could even face criminal prosecution because of fraud (depending on what the scammer did with your information). The tax attorney at Silver Law PLC can defend you against civil or criminal charges if you have been the victim of a tax scam. We can also help you to correct your return or fix other issues brought on by a scam, depending on the circumstances. Call us today to talk with a tax lawyer about your options.

Silver Law PLC

Arizona Location
7033 E. Greenway Pkwy, Ste 200
Scottsdale, AZ 85254


Nevada Location
410 South Rampart Blvd, Suite 390
Las Vegas, Nevada 89145

Office: 702-318-7130

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