Millions of dollars and personal information from thousands of people are lost every year due to tax scams. There is an old saying that there are two things that are certain in life: death and taxes. It seems you can add a third: tax scams.

There are some new and updated scams for 2019:

  • New version of SSN scam – This phone scam involves pre-recorded messages threatening to suspend or cancel a vitctim’s Social Security Number
    Visit (IRS Tax Tip 2019-149) for more information.
  • IRS and FBI phishing scam – This scam email uses the emblems of both the IRS and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It tries to entice users to download a fake FBI questionnaire. Instead, the link downloads ransomware that prevents users from accessing data stored on their device unless they pay money to the scammers.
    Visit (IRS Tax Tip 2019-104) for more information.
  • Scams related to natural disasters – In the wake of natural disasters, the IRS reminds taxpayers that criminals and scammers try to take advantage of the generosity of taxpayers that want to help victims. Make sure you are donating to legitimate charities. The IRS launched Internal Charity Fraud Awareness Week to share practices to help charities and other not-for-profit organizations to stop fraud.
    Visit (IRS Tax Tip 2019-172) for more information.

These are still the two most common scams that often target taxpayers:

  • Phishing – These types of schemes come in the form of fakes emails, text messages, websites, and other social media to attempt to steal personal information. Most of these scams can lead to tax-related fraud and identity theft. The IRS continues to see new and evolving phishing schemes throughout the year.
    Visit (IR-2019-26) for more information.
  • Phone Scams – Criminals make unsolicited calls and leave voicemails with requests claiming to be IRS officials and demand payment with prepaid debit cards, gift cards, or wire transfer. Often times, they use threats or intimidation and even “spoof” their caller ID numbers to appear as the IRS or other legitimate agencies.
    Visit (IR-2019-29) for more information.

These are just two examples of scams that commonly occur during tax season, but they should not be the only ones to watch out for.

What are the warning signs of a scam?

The IRS will never:

  • 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 you a bill if you owe any taxes.
  • Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
  • Demand payment without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
  • Use email or text messages to discuss personal tax matters, such as taxes owed or tax refunds.

If you believe you have received a fraudulent call or phishing email, you can report them to [email protected]

Remember to stay alert to IRS or tax-related scams throughout the year. While there may be a surge in scams right now, they can happen at any time.