Don’t fall victim to tax scams
Scams involving fraudsters disguised as IRS or state employees wanting to help with tax filing or requesting payment on owed taxes are prevalent this time of year.
Be cautious of any communication – tax related or otherwise – requesting your personal or financial information, no matter how “official” the communication seems. The IRS and state tax authorities will never reach out to you by email, text or phone – or through social media – to ask for personal or financial information.
Here’s what to look for in phishy emails
Tax scam emails typically include the tax service’s name and official seal, and they may even link to a phony website to appear more official. The email may be about a tax return, discrepancy or bill, with a threat to audit if the payment is not made right away.
If you receive any emails like this, don’t reply or provide any personal or financial information. Also, don’t open any attachments or click on any link because they may contain a malicious code or virus that will infect your computer. Forward scam emails to firstname.lastname@example.org and then delete the email.
Hang up, delete and report
- If you are contacted by someone claiming to be an official tax authority demanding immediate payment or asking for financial information, hang up or delete the voicemail immediately and contact the authority directly. The IRS or a state employee will not call to discuss taxes you owe without first mailing you an official bill.
- If you think you don’t owe taxes and believe you have been a target of a scam, contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800.366.4484, the Federal Trade Commission and/or the Missouri Attorney General’s Office at 573.751.3321 (or its Consumer Protection Hotline, 800.392.8222). If you think you owe taxes, call the IRS at 800.829.1040.
- Tax authorities also would never ask or require you to pay taxes an alternative way, such as with a prepaid/reloadable debit card, gift card or money wires through services like Western Union or MoneyGram.
- If you suspect a tax scam, report it to the Missouri Attorney General’s Office at 573.751.3321 (or its Consumer Protection Hotline, 800.392.8222) and/or the Federal Trade Commission. For Illinois residents, report it to the Consumer Protction Division of the Illinois Attorney General’s Office at 800.243.0618.
Keep yourself informed
Knowledge is the best defense against becoming a victim of tax fraud.
- Visit the IRS’s website to learn more about these tax scams.
- Consider signing up for free scam alert emails from the FTC to get the latest tips and advice.
- Follow us on Facebook for links to additional blog posts and helpful tips from sources around the web.
- Check out the fraud/identity theft section of our blog.