With Tax Season Underway, IRS Warns to Watch out for Phone Scams, Phishing Emails

Hacker stealing your identity.
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The new tax season has started, and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is reminding taxpayers about tax scams.

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The 2022 tax filing season started Jan. 24 and more than 160 million individual tax returns for the 2021 tax year are expected to be filed, with most coming in before the April 18 tax deadline, according to the IRS.

The IRS warns that criminals continue to make aggressive calls posing as IRS agents in hopes of stealing taxpayer money or personal information. As such, the agency lists several things Americans should be cautious about — and which actions to take if they receive a scam call.

The IRS says on its website that it will never call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer.

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“Generally, the IRS will first mail a bill to any taxpayer who owes taxes,” according to the website.

In addition, the IRS will never demand that taxes be paid without giving taxpayers the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed, and will never call unexpectedly about a tax refund.

If you receive these phone calls, the IRS recommends that you record the number and then hang up the phone immediately.

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In addition, taxpayers can report the call to TIGTA using their IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting form or by calling 800-366-4484, or report the number to phishing@irs.gov.

The IRS warns also about digital fraudsters posing as members of the Taxpayer Advocacy Panel (TAP), typically reaching out to would-be victims about a tax refund via email.

“These emails are a phishing scam, trying to trick victims into providing personal and financial information. Do not respond or click any link. If you receive this scam, forward it to phishing@irs.gov and note that it seems to be a scam phishing for your information,” the IRS said on its website.

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Avoid Fraud by Filing Your Taxes Early

Another tip the IRS gave earlier this month is that if you want to avoid fraud, file your taxes early. But why does filing your taxes early protect against fraud?

Tom Wheelwright, CPA and author of “Tax-Free Wealth,” told GOBankingRates that “if someone has stolen your identity and files a tax return in your name to claim a refund, you will run into trouble when you submit your actual information. You want to file before a fraudulent person files. If they file first, it can take a year or more to rectify with the IRS.”

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If someone has stolen your identity and files a tax return in your name to claim a refund, you will run into trouble when you submit your actual information, and it’s your responsibility to prove to the IRS that the return filed in your name was fraudulent and give them the correct information. The agency will investigate, which will delay getting the money you’re owed, Wheelwright said.

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About the Author

Yaël Bizouati-Kennedy is a full-time financial journalist and has written for several publications, including Dow Jones, The Financial Times Group, Bloomberg and Business Insider. She also worked as a vice president/senior content writer for major NYC-based financial companies, including New York Life and MSCI. Yaël is now freelancing and most recently, she co-authored  the book “Blockchain for Medical Research: Accelerating Trust in Healthcare,” with Dr. Sean Manion. (CRC Press, April 2020) She holds two master’s degrees, including one in Journalism from New York University and one in Russian Studies from Université Toulouse-Jean Jaurès, France.

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