Tax season is a prime time for scammers to take advantage of unsuspecting individuals. Cybercriminals often use this time of year to launch various scams to steal sensitive personal and financial information from taxpayers. As an IT security researcher, I’ve compiled a list of the top 7 scams you should be aware of during tax season.
1. Phishing Scams:
Phishing scams are a common tactic used by cybercriminals to trick unsuspecting taxpayers into revealing their personal and financial information. Scammers may send emails, text messages, or even call pretending to be from the IRS or other tax agencies. These messages often contain a sense of urgency, urging the recipient to click on a link or download an attachment to avoid penalties or legal action. These links may lead to a fake website that looks similar to the legitimate site, where the scammer can steal your information.
2. Fake Tax Software Scams:
3. Phone Scams:
Phone scams have become increasingly sophisticated in recent years. Scammers may use spoofed phone numbers or pretend to be from legitimate organizations, such as the IRS or local law enforcement. They may threaten legal action, arrest, or deportation if the victim does not pay their taxes immediately. These calls are often convincing, but remember that the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers over the phone.
4. Refund Scams:
Refund scams occur when scammers steal taxpayer information and file a fraudulent tax return to receive a refund. Victims may not realize that their identity has been stolen until they file their own tax return and discover that a return has already been filed in their name.
5. Preparer Scams:
Tax preparer scams occur when a tax preparer promises a larger refund than the taxpayer is entitled to. In some cases, the preparer may also steal the taxpayer’s refund or charge exorbitant fees for their services.
6. Charity Scams:
Charity scams are another common tactic used by cybercriminals during tax season. Scammers may create fake charities or impersonate legitimate charities to trick taxpayers into donating money. These donations are often not tax-deductible, and the money goes directly to the scammer rather than the charity.
7. Identity Theft Scams:
Identity theft scams occur when a cybercriminal steals a taxpayer’s personal and financial information to file a fraudulent tax return. This can result in delayed refunds, penalties, and legal issues for the victim.