The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) extension of the federal income tax filing deadline has created some confusion, making members more susceptible to fraud attempts.

Learn how to protect yourself from the most common scams

What do these scams look like? 

Tax scams continue to evolve as scammers find new, creative ways to prey on challenging times and defraud taxpayers. The IRS recently listed the following tax scams that pose major threats and are important to be aware of in this 2021 tax season. 

  • Phishing Scams:  Fake emails, texts, phone calls, or websites looking to steal personal information.
  • Phone Scams (or “vishing”):   Scam phone calls to instill a sense of urgency, including those threatening arrest, deportation, or some kind of retaliation if a tax bill is left unpaid.  
  • Charity Scams:  Schemes that share bogus information about a charity to trick people to send money or provide personal information. This is attempted with a fake website, using names similar to legitimate charities, or unsolicited communication. 
  • Social Media Scams: Social media scams frequently use events (like COVID-19) to try tricking people to disclose personal information by convincing a potential victim they are dealing with a person they trust via email, text or social media messaging.
  • Refund Theft Scams: Refund and Economic Impact Payments (EIP) as provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act have been targeted in recent scams with identity theft and filing false tax returns to divert funds to the wrong address or bank account.
  • Elder Fraud: Seniors are more likely to be targeted and victimized by scammers than other segments of society due to unfamiliarity or uncertainty on how to respond across digital channels. 
  • Payroll and HR Scams: Phishing schemes are designed to steal Form W-2s and other tax information. This has grown with many businesses closed and their employees working from home due to COVID-19. W-2 forms contain a lot of sensitive information and are highly valuable for identity thieves.
Tax Scam and Fraud Prevention Tips 
Being aware of the different scams can help you reduce the risk of falling victim to these crimes.
  • Be cautious of any communication: Communication requesting personal or financial information – tax related or otherwise – should be treated with caution.  The IRS and state tax authorities would never reach out by phone, email, text, or social media.
  • Pay attention to how money is requested: The IRS never requires that taxes or bills be paid with a prepaid/reloadable debit card, gift card, or money wires through services like Western Union or MoneyGram.
  • Report threatening or demanding messages: Calls demanding immediate payment or threatening legal action are likely scam attempts. The IRS will not call to discuss taxes you owe without first mailing you an official bill.
  • Don’t open any attachments or click on any links: They may contain a malicious code or virus that will infect your computer. Cybercriminals might use a phishing email to trick a potential victim into opening a link or attachment containing the ransomware.
  • Be wary of rejected file requests due to duplication: If an e-filed return is rejected because a duplicate EIN/SSN is already on file with the IRS or an unexpected receipt of a tax transcript doesn’t correspond to anything previously may be a warning sign of identification theft. 
The IRS also provides additional information about potential scams and how to protect yourself year-round. If a scam is suspected, report it to your state authorities and/or the Federal Trade Commission here.

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