The IRS Doesn’t Call (and other Good-to-Know Tips about Tax Scams)

February 23, 2023

Imposter scams are on the rise and becoming more sophisticated by the day. From bankers to IRS agents, professionals in the finance sector seem to be the most commonly spoofed. This is likely because people have a tendency to accept calls, even from strangers, when they appear to be about their money.

IRS scams really heat up this time of year. And, they are effective. The IRS estimates there’s now an annual loss of about half a trillion dollars sent from victims to imposter IRS agents. Last year alone, there were nearly 7.8 million reports of tax-related scams.

As you head into tax season, here are a few of the more popular schemes to watch for…

  • Fake agents threatening to sue or arrest you for overdue taxes. The fraud industry refers to this tactic as “FUD,” which stands for the fear, uncertainty and doubt scammers try to instill in their victims.
  • Text messages or emails with offers to “streamline” your taxes.
  • Calls from individuals who want to help you fix a supposed error within your filing.
  • Identity thieves steal your personally identifiable information and then file taxes on your behalf with the refund sent directly to them.
  • Tax professionals and accounting firms are big targets for cybersecurity scams, too, as scammers can access multiple victims through one compromise.

A few things to keep in mind…

  • The IRS loves analog communications. Paper is their jam. In other words, they will only contact you via the U.S. Postal Service.
  • The IRS will also never ask for payment with a wire transfer, P2P service or gift card.
  • Those tell-tale typos and poor grammar that used to clue us into a scam may be a thing of the past as cybercrooks begin taking advantage of new tech like ChatGPT.
  • Scammers use phone-call spoofing technology that disguises a phone number and replaces it with one that looks (or even is) legitimate.
  • Banks are not always able to help once money leaves your account. Never share your online banking information, including one-time passcodes, with callers or texters who say they need it. Doing so may violate the liability terms of agreement with your financial institution.
  • Filing early limits the risk of an identity thief filing a fake return, so don’t dilly-dally.

The above information merely scratches the surface of the ever-evolving tax scam ecosystem. If you experience anything suspicious, let us know . We are always on the lookout for emerging trends in fraud and scams so we can help Bank Iowa clients avoid them. We may even report about it in an upcoming newsletter.

Be safe out there, and happy tax filing!