Three Common Tax Scams to Avoid
Learn how to spot these tricky situations.
Each year during tax season thousands of people fall victim to tax scams through phishing emails, fake charities, IRS impersonators, and other fraud. Know what to do if you find yourself on the receiving end of one of these tax scams.
Scam #1: IRS Impersonation
- What happens: Someone pretending to be from the IRS calls demanding money and threatens police arrest, license revocation, or deportation.
- How to know it’s a fraud: The IRS never calls to demand immediate payment, nor does it ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
- What to do: Don’t engage — con artists can use any information you give them as leverage — and call the IRS to report them.
Scam #2: Fake Charities
- What happens: You get a phone call requesting a donation for natural disaster victims or a familiar-sounding charity.
- How to know it’s a fraud: Use the IRS Search Tool to check whether a charity is legitimate (and tax deductible).
- What to do: Don’t give to an organization before you’ve had a chance to research it. And never give out private information — like Social Security numbers and financial passwords.
Scam #3: Phishing Emails
- What happens: You receive an “IRS-affiliated” email promising a tax refund or requesting you to update your billing information.
- How to know it’s a fraud: The IRS does not request personal information over email, nor will they email you about a bill or refund.
- How to respond: Don’t click any links in the email, which will likely be used to steal your identity or account information. Report any questionable emails “from the IRS” to email@example.com.
Get more information on common tax schemes from the IRS’ “Dirty Dozen” list. If you’ve been a tax fraud victim, report it: Call the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1-800-366-4484.