Beware Of Tax-Time Scams

Tax season can be a stressful enough without needing to worry about recovering from tax-time scams. Here’s what to look for and how to protect yourself.

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With each new tax season comes a new group of scammers trying to get money and information from you.

This year, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is warning consumers of these scams in particular.

Tax-Time Scams

Ghost Preparers

If you’re having someone else prepare your taxes this year, be sure to double-check all the information before filing. The IRS is warning of “ghost preparers” who falsify information, promise higher returns by faking income, and add deductions you normally wouldn’t qualify for, then refuse to sign for their work or include the required Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) on a return. Additionally, these tax preparers might require a cash payment or will direct deposit refunds to their own account instead of that of the taxpayer.

Ultimately, the taxpayer is responsible for all information on a return, so be sure to review all the information against your records. If you see anything unusual, report the preparer and file a complaint with the IRS.

“Tax Transcript” Email Scam

Scammers are posing as financial institutions or “IRS Online” and sending documents via email with “Tax Account Transcript” as the subject line or document title. When the recipient opens the email or attachment, malware can spread. A breach like this can be especially harmful for businesses.

The IRS won’t send unsolicited emails, especially with sensitive information or documents. Avoid opening the email, but if you do so accidentally, forward the scam email to [email protected].

Tax Refund Scam

The tax refund scam involves thieves phishing or infecting computers to gain access to tax return data for thousands of filers. They then use this information to file refund claims on behalf of the victim.

Once the refund has been deposited or a check has been sent, the scammer poses as an IRS or collection agent and reaches out to the victim (usually by phone) to demand the money be returned. They may also use recorded calls to threaten the victims into returning the funds.

If you think you’re a victim of this particular scam, it’s important to act quickly.

If you receive an unexpected tax refund via direct deposit:

If you receive a paper check and have NOT cashed it:

If you receive a paper check and have cashed it:

Threatening Calls & Emails

This involves scammers calling consumers pretending to be IRS or collection agents. They call demanding immediate payment for a supposed tax bill and usually ask for a specific payment method, such as prepaid debit cards, gift cards, or wire transfer.

They’re also sending emails to personal and business accounts claiming to be the IRS. The email will ask you to click an attachment or link and then will install malicious software.

It’s important to remember that the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers via email, text, or social media. They also won’t call to demand immediate payment, or threaten to bring in police or other law enforcement to have you arrested.


If you think you are a victim of tax-related identity theft, click here for tips from the IRS on determining if it’s really them, recommendations, and steps to take.

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Keeping your personal and account information safe can be challenging. Use our tools and tips to help protect yourself from fraud and identity theft.

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