The extended tax filing deadline in 2020 has come to pass. Unfortunately, this also means an uptick in criminals trying to take advantage of consumers who filed their taxes. It is important to remember that the IRS never contacts taxpayers online, nor by calls, texts, or online. All questions or disputes about tax returns are handled via the U.S. Postal Service.
Some of these may be common knowledge, but others are new for this annual report. For a longer list of potential fraudulent schemes, go to the IRS website’s special section called the Dirty Dozen, which features the worst scams:
- Phishing: This involves fake websites or email that looks like it is from the IRS. This year there are some scammers focusing on Economic Impact Payments or using language involving the words “pandemic” or “stimulus” in some way.
- Fake charities: This could be a phony charity supposedly set up to help victims of COVID-19. Solicitation can happen via phone, text, social media, email, or even in person. Any reputable charity will provide a valid Employer Identification Number (EIN) if requested.
- Threatening calls: Scammers who claim to be from the IRS may call and insist on a bogus tax bill’s immediate payment. These can start with a robocall instructing victims to call a specific number.
- EIP theft: Economic Impact Payments offered welcome relief, but scammers now try to get the money.
- Scams targeting non-English speakers: These are often telephone calls that are threatening in nature. They use robocalls to prey on victims who do not understand or feel vulnerable.
- Offer in compromise: Scammers use offer in compromise debt resolution to settle disputes with the IRS for “pennies on the dollar” owed. Some companies do this legally, but unscrupulous companies oversell the value of their service.
- Fake payment and repayment: Criminals deposit money in the victim’s account and then ask for the money back. Doing this, they get access to personal information regarding a bank account number, Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, Social Security Number, and other personal information.
- Ransomware: Hackers employ malicious software (known as malware) to control the computers of individuals, companies, and even municipalities. They then lockout access until the victims pay.
Victims can fight back
It can be hard to identify or locate these criminals, but working with a consumer law attorney often can increase the odds of success. These legal professionals will fight back to protect the client’s bank accounts, credit score and good name.