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Watch Out for These 5 Tax Scams

Updated: January 22, 2024

With tax season well underway, you may be worried about things like W2s, charitable contributions, 1090s, and tax scams. Tax scams are everywhere during this time. The IRS revealed that tax scams have caused thousands of people to lose millions of dollars, along with their personal information. Scammers will use just about any type of communication channel, including regular mail, telephone, and email. Let Launch help you protect your money and personal information with tips on how to identify 5 different tax scams.

1. SSN Scam

With the SSN Scam, fraudsters will call claiming they can cancel or suspend your SSN for unpaid bills. The IRS says if you receive this call you should hang up and block the phone number. Scammers use this tactic to frighten their victims into giving out their personal information. A good rule of thumb is to never give your personal information over the phone unless you’re 100% sure the caller is legitimate. The IRS will never demand immediate payment, ask you to make payments to anyone other than the U.S. Treasury or threaten to have law enforcement arrest you if you do not pay right away. If you receive this type of phone call, report the number to the IRS.

Social Security Cards
Checking email

2. Email Scam

First and foremost, the IRS will never send unsolicited emails and doesn’t email taxpayers about the status of their refund. These fraudulent emails include subject lines like “Automatic Income Tax Reminder” or “Electronic Tax Return Reminder.” The email will have a link that asks you to create a temporary password to access the files, but don’t do it! Clicking the link downloads malware to your computer that gives scammers access to your personal information and financial accounts. Fraudsters are getting more clever every year by creating emails that appear legitimate and designing websites that look similar to the IRS’s actual site. Check out our blog, How to Spot Phishing Scams, for more tips on protecting yourself from scammers.

3. Phone Scam

There’s a new twist on the ever-popular phone scam. Fraudsters will call claiming to be from the Taxpayer Advocacy Service and even go as far as “spoofing” their number so it appears to be from the advocacy group. Fraudsters are looking for personal information like your Social Security number and individual taxpayer identification number. Keep in mind that the Taxpayer Advocacy Service wouldn’t call you without reason. If you receive this type of phone call and you’re unsure what to do, ask for a reference number, hang up, and call the Taxpayer Advocacy Service and ask them if they made the call. 

Person on their computer and cellphone
Someone filing tax return

4. Ghost Scam

Make sure you fully vet a tax preparer before using their services. First, ask for their Preparer Tax Identification. It’s required that they have this to sign the return. Ghost preparers will ask you to print the form, sign it for them, and then mail it to the IRS. If you’re e-filing with a ghost tax return preparer, they’ll refuse to sign it digitally. They will also likely request cash, create fake tax deductions to inflate your refund, and direct refunds into their accounts instead of yours.

5. Tax Transcript Scam

Fraudsters use tax transcripts as bait to get people to open documents that actually contain malware. They disguise themselves as banks & financial institutions and will include subject lines such as “Tax Account Transcript” or “Tax Transcript.”

It can be tough to determine if the IRS is actually contacting you. The IRS says they almost always contact taxpayers through regular mail delivered by the United States Postal Service. 

Filing tax return

For more information on making this tax filing season a breeze, check out our tips on how to prepare for tax season.

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