Tax Fraud: Three Warning Signs To Watch For

From fake IRS notices to threatening phone calls, scammers are becoming smarter when attempting to steal your tax refund… and your identity.

In 2023, more than 90% of people filed their taxes online, making it easier for fraudsters to target new victims. Whether you expect to get a refund or end up owing, look for these warning signs to avoid becoming a victim.

1. Fake tax websites and advertisements

Two of the most common ways consumers fall victim to tax fraud are through fake websites and advertisements. Scammers will message you pretending to be the IRS and providing a link that may lead to a fake website. Once you submit your information, they will use it to their advantage by filing a return on your behalf or even stealing your tax refund altogether.

Fake websites and advertisements can make it difficult to navigate the internet. If you come across a suspicious advertisement or link online, consider researching the company or organization before any interaction to ensure it is legitimate.

2. False claims your tax return is being withheld

In 2023, taxpayers lost more than $4 million to IRS imposters, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Be cautious with unsolicited texts or mailings trying to lure you into giving personal information. This new scheme involves a physical mailing or text message with IRS information that is "in relation to your unclaimed tax refund." The letter or text claims you must provide "filing Information" for your refund such as your phone number, bank information, etc. The following is an actual message sent to an individual targeted by scammers.

"You'll Need to Get This to Get Your Refunds After Filing. These Must Be Given to a Filing Agent Who Will Help You Submit Your Unclaimed Property Claim. Once You Send All The Information Please Try to Be Checking Your Email for Response From The Agents Thanks"

If you receive a message claiming to be the IRS, contact their support team immediately.

3. Threatening phone calls from the ‘government’

Scammers will make threatening phone calls posing as ‘government’ workers using fake names and fake identification numbers. Victims are told they owe money to the IRS that must be paid immediately through credit card, wire transfer, or another form of payment. These calls may even include threats to have you arrested if you do not pay in a timely manner. The IRS will never initiate contact with you by phone regarding your tax refund.

Criminal fraud efforts are continuing to become more complex and convincing to steal your personal information. Be alert and take proactive steps to minimize the chance your tax refund and identity are stolen. DO NOT share your information unless YOU initiate the communication.