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IRS warns tax-related scams are on the rise as tax season is underway

Text and email scams among the top concerns
Tax Filing
Posted at 12:43 PM, Feb 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-07 18:36:39-05

INDIANAPOLIS — Tax time is underway, making it prime time for scammers to try to fool you.

The Internal Revenue Service has issued a warning about the most popular tax-related scams you could face this tax season.

“Tax time is scam time,” Luis Garcia, a spokesperson with the IRS told WRTV. “Unfortunately, any time there’s money involved, stimulus payments or tax refunds, the crooks come out of the woodwork.”

Text message scams

The IRS says, since last year, they’ve seen an uptick in text messages that impersonate the IRS.

“The IRS will never text you,” Garcia told WRTV.

If you receive an unsolicited SMS/text that appears to be from either the IRS or a program closely linked to the IRS, take a screenshot of the text message and include the screenshot in an email to phishing@irs.gov with the following information:

  • Date/time/time zone they received the text message
  • Phone number that received the text message

Email phishing scams

If you receive an unsolicited email that appears to be from either the IRS or a program closely linked to the IRS that is fraudulent, report it by sending it as an attachment to phishing@irs.gov. You can also visit the Report Phishing and Online Scams page.

“The IRS will never send you an email out of the blue,” Garcia said.

Do not click links or open attachments in unsolicited, suspicious or unexpected text messages — whether from the IRS, state tax agencies or others in the tax community.

“They’ll try to entice you by the carrot saying you’ve got money coming, or the stick which is if you don’t respond or pay us, we are going to do this bad stuff to you,” Garcia said.

Unemployment fraud

As a new tax season begins, the IRS reminds taxpayers to watch out for claims of unemployment or other benefit payments for which they never applied.

“Unemployment scams where someone has stolen your identity maybe in another state and filed for unemployment is a scam that has gotten picked up by criminal organizations,” Garcia said. “It’s very sophisticated. “You don’t know about until you get this 1099-G, a statement from the state of Indiana or another state saying you’ve received unemployment benefits when in fact you didn’t.”

The IRS says states have experienced a surge in fraudulent unemployment claims filed by organized crime rings using stolen identities.

Because unemployment benefits are taxable income, states issue Form 1099-G, Certain Government Payments, to recipients and to the IRS to report the amount of taxable compensation received and any withholding.

The IRS says any worker receiving a fraudulent or inaccurate 1099-G should report it to the issuing state agency and request a corrected Form 1099-G.

For details on how to report fraud to state workforce agencies, how to obtain a corrected Form 1099-G, how to find a list of state contacts and other steps to take related to unemployment fraud, taxpayers can visit the U.S. Department of Labor’s DOL.gov/fraud page.

You may be a victim of identity theft if you received:

  • Mail from a government agency about an unemployment claim or payment for which they did not file. This includes unexpected payments or debit cards and could be from any state.
  • An IRS Form 1099-G reflecting unemployment benefits they weren't expecting or didn’t receive. Box 1 on this form may show unemployment benefits they did not receive or an amount that exceeds their records for benefits they did receive. The form itself may be from a state in which they did not file for benefits.
  • A notice from your employer indicating the employer received a request for information about an unemployment claim.

Phone scams

Garcia says it’s not true that the IRS will never call you.

“We actually do call, but it’s very rare, and if you do you usually have a pile of letters from the IRS you haven’t responded to,” Garcia said.

The IRS does not leave pre-recorded, urgent or threatening messages.

“Keep in mind the three big red flags — we are not going to threaten you, we’re not going to demand immediate payment and we are not going to demand a particular payment method,” Garcia said. “If that happens, hang up or delete the email or whatever.”

Criminals can fake or “spoof” caller ID numbers to appear to be anywhere in the country, including from an IRS office.

The IRS (and its authorized private collection agencies) will never:

  • Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. The IRS does not use these methods for tax payments.
  • Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have the taxpayer arrested for not paying.
  • Demand that taxes be paid without giving the taxpayer the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

For anyone who doesn’t owe taxes and has no reason to think they do:

For anyone who owes tax or thinks they do:

  • View tax account information online at IRS.gov to see the actual amount owed. Taxpayers can also review their payment options.
  • Call the number on the billing notice or
  • Call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040. IRS employees can help.

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