How to avoid tax-time scams

It’s everyone’s favorite time of year again: Tax Time! And along with all the fun gathering of documents, numbers, and other records, comes the usual spike in malicious email and phone calls. Each year, the IRS keeps a list of the top 12 tax scams that it calls the “Dirty Dozen”. Here is 2019’s list:

Being a technology company, we’re going to focus on the technology-based scams, specifically email and phone. The usual email/phone advice applies: if you don’t recognize the sender/caller and they initiated the conversation, delete it/hang up. Now on to some of the scams that made the 2019 Dirty Dozen!

Phishing Schemes:

Phishing is nothing new (especially if you’ve been following/reading our blog). However, there was a twist back in 2018 that saw scammers using information stolen from tax professionals to file fraudulent tax returns and direct deposit refunds into the real taxpayer’s bank account. The scammers then pose as a collection agency or IRS agent to trick the taxpayer in to sending them the money, thinking they are returning the fraudulent refund. You can read more on the IRS’s website here:

Fake Charities:

No one wants to say to no to someone in need, and tax time offers the added advantage of being able to help someone in need and get a little help in return. Of course, scammers like to take advantage of our benevolent nature, so the IRS put together a website where you can check to make sure a charity is legitimate and qualified: If you receive an email or call from a charity soliciting a donation, feel free to look it up before taking any action. You can read more about this specific scam on the IRS’s website:

Remember, the IRS will never (taken from their website:

  • Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail a bill to any taxpayer who owes taxes.
  • Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have the taxpayer arrested for not paying.
  • Demand that taxes be paid without giving taxpayers the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
  • Call you about an unexpected refund.

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