With another tax filing season beginning, taxpayers must be mindful of the various IRS impersonation scams and schemes. This article summarizes popular schemes that criminals utilize to obtain vital information.
Text Message Fraud
Last year, text message scams referenced COVID-19 and/or stimulus payments. The messages contained fake links that claimed to direct a taxpayer to his or her account with the IRS to claim these benefits.
The IRS does not send text messages. If a taxpayer does receive an unsolicited text message from the IRS, the taxpayer should report it by taking a screenshot of it and include it in an email to [email protected] with the date, time, and time zone in which they received the text and the phone number that received the text.
The IRS does not initiate contact with a taxpayer by email.If a taxpayer suspects it has received a fraudulent email, it should be reported by sending the fake email as an attachment to [email protected].
Phone Calls and Messages Fraud
Identity thieves also use pre-recorded, urgent or threatening phone messages to demand payments and convince taxpayers to release financial information. Phone scams should be reported to the Treasury Inspector General at IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting and the Federal Trade Commission at FTC.gov. Taxpayers should also report the callback number to the IRS at [email protected].
Generally, the IRS will contact the taxpayer by mail if a taxpayer owes taxes, and when remitting payments, any payment should only be made to the U.S. Treasury.
An area of increased focus by criminals is unemployment benefits. Criminals fraudulently apply for, and obtain, unemployment benefits, using a taxpayer’s identity. Since unemployment benefits are taxable, states issue Form 1099-G to the recipients and to the IRS. If a taxpayer receives a fraudulent 1099-G, it should be reported to the state and the person should request a corrected 1099-G Form. Assistance with unemployment fraud can be found on the U.S. Department of Labor’s page at DOL.gov/fraud.
More identity theft information can be found under Tax Scams and Consumer Alerts on IRS.gov. Please also don’t hesitate to reach out to your Schneider Downs professional for assistance at [email protected].
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Material discussed is meant for informational purposes only, and it is not to be construed as investment, tax, or legal advice. Please note that individual situations can vary. Therefore, this information should be relied upon when coordinated with individual professional advice.