Compiled annually, the IRS lists a variety of common scams that taxpayers can encounter. This year’s list includes the following four categories.
- Pandemic-related scams. Criminals still use the COVID-19 pandemic to steal people’s money and identity with phishing emails, social media posts, phone calls, and text messages.
All these efforts can lead to criminals stealing your sensitive personal information and scammers using this to try filing fraudulent tax returns. Some scams people should continue to be on the lookout for including Economic Impact Payment and tax refund scams, unemployment fraud leading to inaccurate taxpayer 1099-Gs, fake employment offers on social media, and fake charities that steal taxpayers’ money.
- Offer-in-compromise mills. Offer-in-compromise (OIC) mills make outlandish claims about how they can settle a person’s tax debt for pennies on the dollar. Often, the reality is that taxpayers are required to pay a hefty fee upfront to get the same deal they could have gotten on their own by working directly with the IRS. These services tend to be more visible after the filing season ends while taxpayers try to pay their recent bills.
- Suspicious communication. Suspicious communication use tactics to trick, surprise, or scare someone into responding before thinking. Criminals use a variety of communications to lure potential victims. Scammers trick victims into providing sensitive personal financial information, money, or other information. Scammers use stolen personal information to file false tax returns and tap into financial accounts, among other schemes. The IRS warns taxpayers to be on the lookout for suspicious activity across four common forms of contact: email, social media, telephone, and text messages.
- Spear phishing attacks. Criminals try to steal client data and tax preparers’ identities to file fraudulent tax returns for refunds. Spear phishing tailors to attack any business or organization, so everyone needs to be skeptical of emails requesting financial or personal information.
What you can do
If you discover that you’re a victim of identity theft, consider taking the following action:
- Notify creditors and banks. Most credit card companies offer protections to cardholders affected by ID theft. Generally, you can avoid liability for unauthorized charges exceeding $50. But if your ATM or debit card gets stolen, report the theft immediately to avoid dire consequences.
- Place a fraud alert on your credit report. Placing a fraud alert covers all three of your credit files. Contact any of the three major credit reporting agencies—Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion—to avoid a long-lasting impact to request a fraud alert.
- Report the theft to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC will provide a recovery plan and offer updates if you set up an account on the website. Visit identitytheft.gov or call 877-438-4338.
- Please call if you suspect any tax-related identity theft. If any of the previously mentioned signs of tax-related identity theft have happened to you, please call to schedule an appointment to discuss the next steps.