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Bee Aware: Steer clear of IRS tax scams

Bee Aware Hero: "IRS Tax Scam" written on notepad

Did you know that tax-related identity theft has increased by 45% since 2020?

Scammers may use phishing or social engineering tactics to trick you.


What is phishing and social engineering?

Phishing involves sending fraudulent emails that look like they’re coming from reputable companies. Thieves want you to reveal personal information like passwords or credit card information. A link in an email may lead to a fake website designed to look like a real one. Alternatively, a link may be malicious and infect your computer with a virus.

Social engineering is like phishing but adds psychological manipulation to uncover desired information. In many cases, scammers use information collected about you, such as from social media, against you.


What should I look out for?

This tax season, be alert to phishing and social engineering scams via unsolicited emails, phone calls, or text messages. Cybercriminals may claim to be from the IRS.

One example is a bogus IRS official claiming that you owe back taxes. A newer example is a fake Biden administration program that claims to provide tax forgiveness for a fee.

Don’t be fooled. The IRS won’t initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text message, or social media channels.

Here is a typical scenario:

A scammer uses a phishing email to get you to reveal your social security number. Next, they use the information to steal your identity. Then, they submit a false tax return and route refunds to their bank account. You may not know anything is wrong until you try to submit your return.

What can I do?

Follow these tips to protect yourself during tax preparation season:

  • Act quickly if you think someone has filed a false return in your name.
  • File as early as possible to decrease the likelihood of identity theft.
  • Sign up to get an Identity Protection Personal Identification Number or IP-PIN. It’s an extra layer of protection, like two-factor authentication, and you can use it alongside your social security number when filing your taxes.
  • Never reply to suspicious emails, phone calls, or text messages requesting personal information.
  • Be wary of tax preparers asking you to sign an incomplete return or not allowing you to review it.