Dirty Dozen part 1: Taxpayers should be on the lookout for these scams
All tax scams put taxpayers at risk. This is the first of two tips taking a closer look at the IRS Dirty Dozen tax scam list. This year, taxpayers should be especially, watchful for aggressive schemes related to COVID-19 relief, including Economic Impact Payments.
Here is a recap of the first six scams in this year’s Dirty Dozen.
Phishing: Taxpayers should be alert to potential fake emails or websites looking to steal personal information. The IRS will never initiate contact with taxpayers through email about a tax bill, refund or Economic Impact Payment. Don’t click on links claiming to be from the IRS. Be wary of emails and websites − they may be nothing more than scams to steal personal information.
Fake charities: Criminals frequently target natural disasters and other situations, such as COVID-19, by setting up fake charities to steal from well-intentioned people trying to help in times of need. Fraudulent schemes normally start with unsolicited contact by phone, text, social media, email or in-person using a variety of tactics.
Threatening impersonator phone calls: IRS impersonation scams come in many forms. A common one remains fake threatening phone calls from a criminal claiming to be with the IRS. The agency will never threaten a taxpayer or surprise them with a demand for immediate payment. Scam phone calls include those threatening arrest, deportation or license revocation if the victim doesn’t pay a fake tax bill.
Social media scams: Taxpayers need to protect themselves against social media scams, which frequently use events such as COVID-19 to try tricking people. Social media enables anyone to share information with anyone else on the Internet. Scammers use this information as ammunition for a wide variety of scams. These include emails where scammers impersonate someone’s family, friends or co-workers.
Economic Impact Payment or refund theft: This year, criminals turned their attention to stealing Economic Impact Payments. Many of these scams are identity theft-related. Criminals file false tax returns or supply false information to the IRS to divert refunds to wrong addresses or bank accounts.
Senior fraud: Senior citizens, their friends and family need to be on alert for tax scams targeting older taxpayers. Their growing comfort with technology, including social media, gives scammers another means of taking advantage of them. Phishing scams linked to COVID-19 have been a major threat this year. Seniors should be on alert for a continuing surge of fake emails, text messages, websites and social media attempts to steal personal information.