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Return of the Tax Return Scam

Tuesday, 12 February 2019 14:00

The scammers are up to their usual tricks with some new ones up their sleeves. The best way to protect yourself is to familiarize yourself with their tactics, so you can skip the scams.

As you prepare to file your taxes this year, be on the lookout for attempts to steal your personal data, identity, tax refund – or all three.

Spot those red flags.

The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers via email, text messages, or social media. So, if you receive such a message: beware! If a taxpayer owes money to the IRS, the federal government will not require payment in a specific form either (like a prepaid debit card, gift card, or wire transfer).

How do tax return scams work?

If a scammer obtains your Social Security number, he can use it to file a phony tax return and steal your refund. Then when you submit your legitimate tax return, it’s rejected by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as a duplicate filing.

Sorry, wrong number.

Beware of phone calls from people requesting your Social Security number, other personal information, or even payment. During tax season, a common scheme involves a caller posing as an IRS employee. Often, the caller attempts to obtain confidential information or may try to “collect taxes” or “overdue fines.”

Because the caller claims to be someone with authority, and may threaten jail time if you don’t pay up immediately, victims panic and give in to the caller’s demands. The IRS does not operate this way. If you get a call like this, hang up.

Resist the clicks.

Criminals also send emails to phish for confidential information. These emails appear to come from the IRS or another official agency. The recipient is asked to reply with sensitive personal information, or is directed to a fake website to enter the data. This is a scam – don’t do it!

Don’t be a victim.

Reduce your chances of falling prey to tax refund fraud with these simple tips.

  • File your tax return as early as possible.
  • Never respond to an unexpected email claiming to be from the IRS, or click on any links in the email. Instead, forward it to
  • If you file your tax return electronically, always use a secure connection.
  • Consider freezing your credit to help protect your identity against this and other scams.
  • If you’re unsure whether a tax communication is legitimate, contact the IRS directly at (800) 829-1040.