July 13, 2024

Don’t Get Hooked: IRS Unveils Sneaky Tax Scams as Filing Season Looms

Image Credits: Timothy Fadek/Bloomberg via Getty Images

As tax season approaches, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is sounding the alarm on crafty scams targeting unsuspecting taxpayers and professionals. In a timely cautionary release during National Tax Security Awareness Week, IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel emphasized the relentless nature of identity thieves, urging people to safeguard their personal information amidst a rising tide of scams.

“Identity thieves are relentless and use various techniques,” warned Commissioner Werfel. “With people anxious to receive the latest information about a refund or other issues during tax season, scammers will regularly pose as the IRS, a state tax agency, or others in the tax industry.”

In the intricate dance of deception, scammers often exploit current events and tragedies to trick taxpayers. The IRS has observed a disturbing trend where identity thieves manipulate recent news events as a backdrop to their nefarious schemes.

A prevalent tax season scam involves fraudsters reaching out to tax professionals, assuming the guise of potential clients via email or phone. Their goal? To infiltrate a company’s systems and file counterfeit tax returns, securing illicit refunds.

However, it’s not just email that taxpayers must be vigilant about. “Smishing,” a term coined for phishing via text message, has emerged as a parallel technique. These messages may claim a taxpayer’s account is on hold or present a fabricated unusual activity report, offering supposed “solutions” to restore the account.

“Taxpayers should never respond to tax-related phishing or smishing or click on the URL link,” emphasizes the IRS. Instead, they encourage reporting such scams by forwarding the suspicious email or attaching a copy of the text/SMS to phishing@irs.gov.

The IRS, known for initiating most contacts through traditional mail, emphasizes that unexpected messages about bills or tax refunds about bills or tax refunds via email, text, or social media are likely scams. To drive home the point, partners in the IRS Security Summit reinforce the importance of never clicking on unsolicited communications, as these may harbor malware or ransomware that can compromise devices and files.

As the IRS unveils these sneaky tax scams, it’s clear that vigilance is the key to avoiding the traps laid out by cunning fraudsters. Stay alert, protect your information, and remember – if it seems too good to be true during tax season, it probably is.

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