Every year, the IRS publishes their “dirty dozen” list on the IRS website. This is a list of scams that the IRS wants everyone to watch out for and avoid. The scams fall into four main categories: Pandemic-related scams, personal information scams, scams which focus on certain victims, and scams persuading taxpayers to take actions not in their best interests.
The government provided financial help to individuals and businesses during the pandemic. The IRS is alerting taxpayers to be aware that mailbox theft of the stimulus checks is great, as are scam telephone calls regarding these checks. Scammers have stolen identities, filed unemployment claims under the victim’s personal information, and more. The IRS reiterates that an IRS employee will never initiate contact via phone, email or text asking for your personal information or social security number. Scammers have obtained this private information by calling victims, and stating that the information is needed to “process” stimulus checks.
Personal Information Scams
Personal information includes your driver’s license number, banking information, passwords, social security information, and more. The IRS warns that scammers send communication that looks like it’s from a legitimate source, like a government agency. The scammer collects the personal information, and is then able to gain access to your accounts. Scammers also embed viruses in the communication that compromises the security of your computer or phone.
Social media scams are gaining in success. The scammer may pretend to be a family member or friend in order to obtain personal information from you. And still, as old as this scam is, it still works – the scammer asks for money due to an emergency, or for a fake charity contribution.
Scams Focusing on Certain Victims
With the pandemic, scammers have set up fake charities and disaster relief organizations. They create fabricated stories on social media about a family that needs financial help, or other emotional plea for help. Be wary of this, and of any charity asking for a donation via gift card or money wire. Do your research to make sure the charity is legitimate.
Scams that Persuade Taxpayers into Taking Action
Scammers may offer deals, promises, and big discounts for a “settlement” with the IRS. They often promise success with certain government relief programs. Many of these entities are not legitimate and not reputable – they are just more con-artists. Look out for misleading advertising that seems too good to be true. Be careful, and make sure you do your homework to make sure you’re not the next victim.
For a full list of the “dirty dozen”, visit the IRS website. The IRS wants everyone to know that the IRS will first communicate with you via regular U.S. Mail. Contact will not be by telephone, or by email. And remember, scammers can be very artful and sophisticated, and waiting to prey on the vulnerable and unsuspecting. And if there is a request for a gift card, wire transfer, money, or personal information….run.