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Beware of IRS Impersonation Scams

Yellow fraud alert sign sitting on top of a white computer keyboard

Tax time can be stressful and aggravating—and that’s without the added burden of dodging scams left and right. Beware of this common tax scam so you can keep yourself and your bottom line protected against criminals.

As hackers become more and more adept at infiltrating systems and networks, there are more and more stories in the news about data breaches. Unfortunately, tax practitioners’ computer files are becoming popular targets for criminals.

How it works

Armed with stolen social security numbers and other sensitive information, scammers are filing fraudulent returns and even providing the victim’s banking information when setting up a direct deposit for the refund. While it might sound kind of nice to have your taxes filed for you, these fraudsters are doing anything but favors. Once the refund has been deposited into an account, the bad guys will convince victims to hand over the money.

Pay up, or else…

Seeing “IRS” on caller ID would make anyone’s heart skip a beat. Imagine answering the call and being told you face serious consequences—even jail time!—if you don’t pay back your tax refund via wire transfer. Victims understandably comply with the orders, only to discover that the phone call didn’t come from the IRS at all… and their money is now in the hands of a criminal.

Stay safe

Knowledge is one of the best protections against IRS scams. You should know that the IRS will never:

  • Demand immediate payment over the phone (the IRS typically sends a bill in the mail as its first contact)
  • Threaten criminal charges or arrest
  • Ask for checking account information or credit/debit card numbers over the phone

What to do

If you’re targeted by an IRS impersonator, you should report the scam to the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) online or by calling 800-366-4484.