How to Detect a Tax Scam

In recent years, there has been a surge in the amount of scamming and phishing crimes committed during tax season. These scams usually come in the form of urgent emails or phone calls that scare victims into revealing sensitive information, such as bank accounts and pin numbers. Often, scammers tell victims that they owe money to the IRS that they must pay immediately via wire transfer or prepaid debit cards. Immigrants, elderly people, and non-English speakers are a primary target for this type of tax fraud. It can be tricky to determine whether the IRS is actually contacting you or if scammers are targeting you, but this page is a brief primer on common tax scams and the warning signs of fraudulent communication.

What the IRS Will Never Do

A great way to know whether you are being scammed is to learn which behaviors are irregular for the IRS. This is a highly regulated government agency, meaning any contact that departs from normal IRS procedure is likely a fraud. Actions the IRS would never use include:

  • Demanding payment from a taxpayer in any form that is NOT a mailed letter
  • Threatening you with local police enforcement or an arrest warrant
  • Asking for credit or debit card numbers over the phone
  • Demanding payment using a specific payment method, such as a prepaid gift card or wire transfer

If you truly owe the IRS tax money, they will send you a bill in the mail. Government agencies will make contact through official means, usually in writing, for recordkeeping. Emails that demand immediate payment are likely phishing attempts, or attempts to steal identity or gain personal information.

Common Scamming Techniques

Someone posing as the IRS may use a number of measures to convince you their attempts are genuine. They can manipulate their caller ID to make victims think it is actually the IRS calling, Photoshop the IRS logo onto emails, or direct the victim to bogus IRS sites that look genuine.

Fraudulent websites may prompt you to file a fake tax return or trick you into downloading malware—viruses that allow criminals to keep track of your keystrokes. This can allow scammers access to your personal files, passwords, and search history.

Contact a Tax Debt Lawyer

If you have questions about your tax debt or are unsure whether you have been the victim of a tax scam, a knowledgeable tax debt lawyer from Erin B. Shank, PC can help alleviate your concerns. Our legal team is well versed in the different ways you can address your debt and are committed to helping you erase your tax anxiety. Contact us today at our Waco offices by calling (254) 296-1161 for more information.