Every single year during income tax filing season there is new type of scam being run. Some of those from previous years may also be “recycled” or updated for the year as well. So, it should be no surprise that as we roll around to the 2018 income tax filing season that this is the case this year as well. The IRS (Internal Revenue Service), local authorities, accountants, and other tax professionals are warning households to be on the lookout for the following scams…or versions of them.
Some of these will be new scams for 2018, and some of them are “older” and have been tried in previous years. In either case we will provide some examples of what to be on the lookout for, and what to do (or ever do!).
Even though we are only in February, tens of thousands of Americans have apparently falling for this, the latest 2018 IRS scam. A summary of it is as follows.
-Someone steals your tax ID without you ever finding out, and they get it from either an online source or income tax professional (H&R Block, accountant, etc.) and use that ID to file a “fake” return in your name.
-The taxpayer who had their ID stolen then receives a “refund check” (or direct deposit) as normal from the IRS, based on the stolen identification.
-The final step is the person/organization that stole the ID and that filed the return then poses as a debt collector or an IRS agent, approach the taxpayer, and tell them they need the refund money as it was sent in error.
While it may sound confusing, be on the lookout for this or a similar transaction/issue. If you receive a check or deposit from the IRS, and it seems unusual to you or maybe you do not even file your taxes yet, you may be a victim of this scam. Call the Internal Revenue Service at 800.829.1040 to report it. Or even if you think something is suspicious, call the IRS to inquire.
Other common tax filing scams
Some of these took places in previous years, and some have been reported for 2018 as well. Be on the lookout.
- Someone calls you and says they are with the IRS, or that they are a debt collector who was hired by the government. They may ask for your tax payment, say you were sent a refund in error, etc. It is a scam…the IRS will never call people “out of the blue”. There will always be a letter sent in the mail first, before that ever happened.
- Fake emails, social media or text messages – Phishing and malware scams try to install ransom ware, hack in your account(s) or steal electronic information from households. Note the IRS does not use those types of communication. They use letters in the mail.
- Debt collector at your door – The IRS does not just approach a home or apartment and demand payment, or say taxes are due. The communication will be in the mail.
Those are just a few of the common scams run in the name of the Internal Revenue Service. There can be dozens of other smaller ones attempted as well. They do not distinguish who they target, and senior citizens, the poor, wealthy, college educated, and others can all be targeted. There are even work from home scams as well as countless other types of fraud. But when it comes to the IRS, the scam can be a version of one or more of those noted above.
Note that the IRS always initiates communication through the mail from the US postal service. They do not call, text, email, or knock on your front door with official previous contact. If you ever have any questions, or if something seems a little “off” to you, then call the IRS customer support/fraud division at 800.829.1040. You can ask them if the request is legitimate or not.