Scam of the Month: Tax Scams

Even though the IRS halts many attempts at fraud, they still saw a 400% increase in reported phishing and malware incidents for the 2016 tax season and identified 42,000 fraudulent tax returns with $227 million in stolen refunds. Thieves accomplish this by using your social security number to file a return that sends the refunds to themselves.

Here are some ways to reduce your risk:

  • Always use security software with firewall and anti-virus protections
  • Use strong passwords on any site where you might enter your social security number
  • Learn to recognize and avoid phishing emails *and* threatening calls or texts from thieves posing as legitimate organizations like your bank, credit card companies and the IRS
  • Don’t click on links or download attachments from unknown or suspicious emails
  • Protect your personal data - don’t routinely carry your social security card and store your tax records in a secure location

Contact the IRS if you get a notice indicating any of the following:

  • You were paid by an employer you don't know
  • More than one tax return was filed using your social security number
  • Your attempt to file an electronic return is rejected with a message saying a return with a duplicate social security number has been filed
  • You’re entitled to a tax refund that you didn’t request

Other scams using the IRS name
These scams may occur through e-mail, fax or phone:

  1. Fake emails purporting to contain an IRS tax bill related to the Affordable Care Act. Scammers send a fraudulent version of CP2000 notices that includes a fake CP2000 as an attachment.

  2. “Robo-calls” with urgent callback requests telling taxpayers to call back and settle their “tax bill.”

  3. Calls from scammers who claim to have your tax return, but need to verify a few details to process your return. They’ll encourage to you provide personal (e.g. a social security number) or financial information (e.g. bank or credit card numbers)


Fear you’ve been scammed? Visit the FTC’s Identity Theft site to report and recover from identity theft.

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