Beyond accountants, tax season also attracts the attention of scammers, ushering in a heightened period of online risks in the U.S. These scammers deploy various schemes targeting taxpayers, taking advantage of the intricate and sometimes uncertain nature of filing tax returns. Common concerns such as filing accuracy, claiming deductions, the fear of audits, and potential tax penalties become the focal points of criminals seeking to exploit taxpayers. 

However, like many scams, tax-related fraud exhibits distinctive signs that can serve as red flags. Understanding these indicators empowers individuals to recognize and avoid falling prey to fraudulent activities before becoming entangled in them. 

Scammers Preying on Uncertainty 

Dealing with the IRS often triggers a sense of caution, with unexpected notifications evoking concern. Despite this, the actual audit rate is minimal, hovering below 1%, and most discrepancies are easily resolved if promptly addressed. However, this heightened wariness creates an ideal environment for hackers exploiting fears of audits and penalties. Common scams include phishing emails, fake IRS agent phone calls, texts alleging tax software issues, and threatening robocalls. Hackers may also escalate to identity theft, filing tax claims in victims’ names. Let’s explore prevalent scams during tax season to enhance your awareness and protection. 

The IRS Dirty Dozen 

The IRS annually releases the “Dirty Dozen,” a comprehensive list of the most notorious tax season scams. Despite the recurring culprits making the cut year after year, fresh scams keep popping up as scammers adapt to exploit current events. 

  1. Robocalls and Phone Scams 

During tax season, phishing calls and messages escalate, posing as IRS agents or financial service providers. : Demands for immediate payment, threats of arrest, or requests for personal information are the signs of a scam. Legitimate IRS communication will never demand payments through specific methods or threaten law enforcement involvement. 

  1. Messages via Text or Social Media 

The IRS communicates primarily through traditional mail. Any contact through text, messaging apps, or social media is likely a scam. Be cautious of bogus account alerts, especially during tax season, as scammers attempt to trick you into divulging personal information or installing malware. 

  1. Phishing Emails 

Email scams are prevalent during tax season, with fraudsters sending convincing emails leading to fake IRS sites or malware-laden attachments. Remember, the IRS does not initiate contact via email. If you receive suspicious emails, delete them and report the incident to

  1. Identity Theft and Stolen Refunds 

Identity theft during tax season can result in someone filing a return in your name, claiming refunds, or committing other fraudulent activities. Learn to recognize signs such as unexpected IRS notices, unauthorized accounts, or unusual employment-related activities. 

Protecting Yourself from Tax Fraud 

  • File Early: File your tax return as early as possible to prevent identity thieves from claiming refunds in your name. 
  • Obtain an IRS PIN: Request a six-digit Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN) from the IRS to enhance identity verification when filing electronically or on paper. 
  • Monitor Credit and Identity: Regularly check your credit report and monitor your identity for any suspicious activities or compromises. 
  • Get Identity Theft Protection: Consider investing in identity theft protection services, offering financial relief and expert assistance in case of a security breach. 
  • Use Online Protection Software: Netsweeper plays a crucial role in shielding users from falling victim to tax fraud and scams. Our comprehensive protection protocols include robust filtering systems to detect and block phishing attempts, fraudulent websites, and malicious links commonly associated with tax scams. With real-time monitoring, Netsweeper acts as a formidable defense, ensuring users are safeguarded against online threats during tax season and beyond. Netsweeper also works closely with the Global Anti-Scam Alliance and ScamAdviser to stop scams and fraud by leveraging sophisticated algorithms to block access to fraudulent websites and phishing pages, using real-time data and intelligence to stay ahead of deceptive activities. This collaboration enhances our capabilities in creating a safer online environment for users worldwide. 

Stay Informed and Stay Safe 

As tax season unfolds, scammers intensify their efforts, exploiting stress and uncertainty. Arm yourself with knowledge about prevalent scams, stay updated on emerging threats, and implement protective measures. For additional information, visit the IRS Tax Scam and Consumer Alert site and schedule a free demo today to explore how Netsweeper can assist you in enhancing your online security and protecting against potential threats. 

Remember, awareness and precautionary measures are your best defences against tax scams. Stay informed, stay safe, and have a worry-free tax season!