Tax scammers are constantly evolving in the way that they work. Find out what you need to know about the most common tax scams for 2022 and how to protect yourself by reading the article below.
Tax season is a busy time for scammers and thieves. With so many people worried about filing their tax returns, they can easily fall prey to common IRS-impersonation scams that are designed to steal your personal identifying information. They will then use this information to file a false tax return in your name and claim a refund, leaving you with a big mess to clean up. These scammers are constantly evolving in the way that they work, so here’s what you need to know about the most common tax scams for 2022 and how to protect yourself.
Common Signs of a Tax Scam
First and foremost, regardless of the exact type of tax scam you’re facing down, it’s important to learn the red flags that indicate you’re speaking to a scammer, and not the IRS. These criminals will make contact with you in a variety of ways, with email and phone calls being the most common tactics. You should know that the IRS will never initiate contact with you via these methods. If you do, truly, owe taxes, you’ll be contacted via an IRS mailer several times before any other action is taken.
The IRS will also not demand immediate payment using a specific payment method—and they especially won’t request unusual payment methods like prepaid debit cards, gift cards, or wire transfers. They will, however, advise you of your right to appeal the amount you owe; if a caller doesn’t do this, they’re not with the IRS.
Of course, as mentioned above, scammers aren’t always trying to collect a payment; they may simply be trying to get your personal information instead. You should never provide this information to someone cold-contacting you on the phone. Instead, hang up, and call the IRS back directly to ensure you’re speaking to a legitimate IRS agent.
Collecting W-2 and 1099 Info from Employers
If you’re an employer, you likely have in your possession a W-2 form for every employee and a 1099 for every contractor. These forms contain the exact kind of sensitive information that scammers want—and they realize they can get it in bulk from businesses like yours, rather than trying to scam your employees one by one. You should put protocols in place for sharing this type of information, and never share it with anyone that you can’t verify is an IRS agent.
These kind of bulk tax scams are growing in popularity, so it’s important that employers become extra vigilant about protecting the data you have for your workers. If you suspect that data has been stolen, you can report it to the IRS by emailing email@example.com.
Email, Phishing, and Malware Scams
As mentioned above, scammers continue to use emails to try to trick unsuspecting users into sharing their data. Some of these emails may prompt you to supply that information yourself, while others will simply contain links that, when clicked, install malware on your computer that will steal your information without you even knowing it. In addition to sending emails posing as the IRS, this year has shown a surge in scam emails posing as the Taxpayer Advocacy Panel (TAP) regarding a tax refund.
These emails can often look very legitimate, so it’s important that you always double check the email address of the sender, and type in URLs instead of clicking on any links contained in the email. Additionally, please remember that the IRS will not initiate contact in this manner; if you have never spoken to the IRS via email before, then any email you receive is certainly a phishing scam.
If you receive a phishing email pretending to be from the IRS or TAP, you can forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to Protect Yourself
The first and most important way you can protect yourself from being a tax scam victim is to stay informed of the most recent tax scams and the actual methods the IRS will use to contact you. As the saying goes, “Knowledge is power,” and knowing what a tax scam looks like is your first line of defense. If you’re an employer, it’s a good idea to ensure all your employees know the sign of a tax scam (especially phishing emails) so your business can be protected as well.
We also strongly encourage all taxpayers to take advantage of the IP PIN program. When you enroll in this program, you’ll receive a unique PIN every tax season to use when filing your return. The IRS will not accept a tax return without the appropriate IP PIN; so, even if a scammer does get your information, they won’t be able to claim a refund in your name.
To learn more about the IP PIN program, visit the IRS website, or contact Peacock & French CPAs to speak with one of our accountants.