Agency officials are sounding the alarm on “IRS impersonation scams,” in which criminals pose as IRS agents to try stealing money or personal information. The latter can lead to identity theft — which allows crooks to file tax returns in victims’ names and steal their tax refund, in addition to other negative financial effects.
Common frauds this tax season may include text-message scams, e-mail schemes, phone scams and unemployment fraud, according to an IRS bulletin issued Thursday.
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These cons can happen throughout the year, but tax season is an especially ripe time for fraudsters.
“With filing season underway, this is a prime period for identity thieves to hit people with realistic-looking emails and texts about their tax returns and refunds,” IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said in the memo.
Here are some common scams to watch for.
1. Text message scams
Text hoaxes involve messages with bogus links that claims to be IRS websites or other online tools. Last year, for example, there was an increase in texts referencing Covid-19 and stimulus payments.
The IRS doesn’t use texts (or social media platforms) to discuss personal tax issues, such as bills or refunds.
“The IRS reminds everyone NOT to click links or open attachments in unsolicited, suspicious or unexpected text messages — whether from the IRS, state tax agencies or others in the tax community,” according to the agency bulletin.