With the 2020 tax season upon us, scammers and fraudsters are out in full force. Individuals and groups all over the world are hard at work trying to steal millions of dollars from taxpayers and the U.S. government. With the exchange of so much private information and money, tax scammers are utilizing their entire playbook.
In order to stay safe and secure this tax season, let’s take a look at the top 3 tax scams that you need to be aware of during the 2020 tax season. Continue reading to learn how these scams work and the steps you can take to keep your identity and tax return secure.
Threat of Canceled Social Security Number
In this tax scam, cybercriminals will reach out to an unsuspecting victim and threaten to cancel or suspend their Social Security number (SSN) if they don’t take care of their overdue taxes. Fraudsters assume individuals will believe their threats are legitimate because they recited the last four digits of their SSN.
If you receive a call similar to this, hang up immediately. If the scammer calls you back, do not answer. Instead, call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040, report the scam online, or send an email to email@example.com with the phrase “IRS Phone Scam” as the subject.
If you do owe taxes, contact the IRS–but understand that your SSN will never be canceled or suspended for unpaid taxes.
IRS Impersonation Calls
Although spoofing phone numbers of official organizations is a common tactic deployed by cybercriminals, their efforts are becoming more and more professional. They practice their script and delivery and make sure they are up to date on the appropriate vocabulary.
Scammers claiming to work for the IRS will call individuals using a phone number that appears to belong to the agency and demand an immediate tax payment. They will coerce and trick victims into making the unwise decision of complying with a wire transfer or gift card for payment.
Do not give in to the pressure. The IRS will never call you or show up at your door demanding immediate payment. If you do owe taxes, they won’t require a gift card or wire transfer for payment. If someone claiming they are with the IRS calls you, make note of the number, hang up and report them.
You can then call the IRS directly at 1-800-829-1040 or visit irs.gov/balancedue to look at your balance.
Fake Text and Social Media Messages
Now that text messaging and social media dominate the communication landscape, scammers are leveraging that technology to trick people. These more sophisticated phishing scams involve sending authentic-looking messages to trick people into giving away private information.
For example, one specific scam uses an official-looking IRS name and logo to warn people about tax scams, hoping to garner their trust and extract personal information. Scammers warning the general public about their scams has become the new scam! It’s a clever scheme that has duped thousands of innocent people.
Remember, the IRS will never initiate a conversation with you asking for personal or financial information. Receiving a text message, Facebook direct message or other social media message is an instant red flag that you are not corresponding with an authentic IRS agent. It’s important that you don’t reply to the message and call the IRS immediately.