It’s tax season, which means it’s also time for tax scams. Some tax scams occur when fraudulent tax returns are filed in the victim’s name, while other variants occur when the malicious actors call the victim and pretend to be IRS agents. There are even malicious actors who use the tax season to spread malware and phishing emails.

Tax scams where the malicious actor files the return in the victim’s name include identity theft and fraud, as well as tax fraud. This scenario occurs when the malicious actor finds or receives information about the tax filer, including the filer’s name, address, date of birth and Social Security number. The malicious actor then uses this information to file a malicious tax return, citing as many deductions as possible to create a large tax refund.

Another variant of tax scams occurs when the malicious actor contacts the victim and tries to convince him or her to do something, such as immediately pay a fine or provide his or her financial information so a refund can be issued. In these instances the malicious actor uses what he or she knows about the victim, often information gained from a data breach or social networking website, to convince the victim that the caller has access to the victim’s tax information. During these calls, the caller will frequently pretend to be an IRS agent.

In the third type of tax scam, malicious actors use tax-related spam, phishing emails and fraudulent websites to trick victims into providing login names, passwords or additional information, which can be used in further fraud. Other emails or websites may download malware onto the victim’s computer.

What to watch out for
  • Watch for “spoofed” websites that look like the official website but are fake.
  • Don’t be fooled by unsolicited calls. The IRS will never call to demand an immediate payment or require you to use a specific payment method, such as pre-loaded debit cards, pre-loaded credit cards or wire transfers. It will never claim anything is “urgent” or due immediately, nor will it request payment over the telephone.
  • The IRS won’t be hostile, insulting or threatening, nor will it threaten to involve law enforcement to have you arrested or deported.
  • Sometimes malicious actors change their caller ID to read as the IRS. If you’re not sure, ask for the agent’s name, hang up and call the IRS (or your state tax agency) using a telephone number from its official website. 
Recommendations
If you believe you’re the victim of identity theft or fraud, there are a couple of steps you should take:
 
If you receive spam or a phishing email about your taxes, don’t click on the links or open any attachments; instead, forward the email to phishing@irs.gov.

Other tax scams or fraud can be reported according to the directions found on the IRS website.

Resources for more information
For more information, please review:

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