Each year the IRS completes a list of “Dirty Dozen” tax scams alerting consumers to the latest tricks and schemes by fraudsters.
This year’s list is comprehensive and phone and email scams continue to be unfortunate trends. We read through the complete list, available here, and summarized the most important takeaways for our blog readers.
- Phone Scams: Aggressive and threatening phone calls by criminals impersonating IRS agents remains an ongoing threat to taxpayers. The IRS has seen a surge of these phone scams in recent months as scam artists threaten police arrest, deportation and license revocation.
- Phishing: Watch for fake emails or websites looking to steal personal information. The IRS will not send you an email about a bill or refund out of the blue.
- Identity Theft: Taxpayers need to watch out for identity theft especially around tax time.
- Return Preparer Fraud: Lookout for unscrupulous return preparers. The vast majority of tax professionals provide honest high-quality service. But there are some dishonest preparers who set up shop each filing season to perpetrate refund fraud, identity theft and other scams that hurt taxpayers.
- Inflated Refund Claims: Taxpayers should be wary of anyone who asks them to sign a blank return, promise a big refund before looking at their records, or charge fees based on a percentage of the refund.
- Fake Charities: Be on guard against groups masquerading as charitable organizations to attract donations from unsuspecting contributors.
If you do end up targeted by a fraudster this season and your refund is stolen, check out this Time.com article for a guide on how to get your money back. The first step is to call the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490 as soon as you realize the fraud has taken place.
*Fort Pitt does not provide tax advice. We encourage you to contact your tax professional with any questions.